The white bread slump: ‘It’s maybe our fault in promoting wholemeal’, says Federation of Bakers

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Sliced white bread remains UK best seller, but sales are slumping
Sliced white bread remains UK best seller, but sales are slumping

Related tags: White bread, Bread

Industry has dedicated a lot of promotional efforts on wholemeal bread and this could have contributed to the slump in white bread, says the Federation of Bakers’ (FOB) director.

Overall bread consumption in the UK has been steadily declining for the past few years at a rate of around 2% each year, according to FOB data. While white bread remains the UK’s biggest seller, sales of the old packaged favorite have seen the most significant decline.

“We’ve been too successful in saying wholemeal is good for you. What we forgot to say is that white bread is good for you too,”​ Gordon Polson, director of FOB told BakeryandSnacks.com.

Polson said the slump in white bread sales could be related to this focus from industry. “It’s not a blame game, but it’s maybe our fault in promoting wholemeal.”

The lost white bread?

However, Polson said opportunities for packaged white bread are not lost. Industry just needs to work harder on increasing awareness about white bread and its nutritional properties, he said.

“White bread contributes 10% of fiber to the diet. It provides large portions of calcium and contains iron. It’s a good bread for children and can also be good for pregnant women with calcium deficiency. It has lots of benefits.”

The FOB recently launched its Slice of Life campaign in a bid to dispel ‘myths’ about bread – particularly sliced white – in the UK and better communicate its benefits to consumers.

Battling misinformation

Polson said that through the campaign, the UK bread industry hoped to counteract misinformation in the public domain on bread and its health values.

“In the UK you have misconceptions that white bread for example has no nutritional value, it makes you fat and has tons of sugar in it. And I think some of these things have built up a bit of momentum.”

A lot of misinformation is being circulated in the press, he added. “If you do actually speak to qualified nutritionists, they are not telling people to stop eating bread, it’s just coming from faddy diet nutritionists – it’s not giving people the correct message.”

Polson said that if consumers choose not to eat white bread, it must be on an informed basis and not because of misinformation.

Nutritionist: Wholemeal is better…

UK-based nutritionist De Carrie Ruxton told this site that given the widespread fiber deficit across the EU and in the UK, industry should be doing everything it can to shift consumers towards whole grains.

“The best bread is wholegrain… Cheap white bread made just with flour – there is no point in having it at all,”​ Ruxton said.

The nutritionist said basic white bread can contain calcium if the flour is fortified, but added that consumers could also just drink milk. And she said that unless spelt or another similar grain is used, white bread is not high in iron.

Read HERE​ for more about what Ruxton thinks on packaged white bread and what she thinks industry should really be focused on.

Related topics: Bread, Manufacturers, Health

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