The Campaign is urging Defra to consider its Honest Crust Act proposals during its review of loaf composition, labelling and marketing laws.
According to the Campaign, the current Bread and Flour Regulations and other applicable legislation fall short in helping small, independent bakery owners to compete on fair terms for their custom.
This, it claims, is because:
- Retailers do not have to display ingredients lists for products that are sold unwrapped, creating an unnecessary barrier to shoppers’ ability to access this important information quickly and easily.
- There is no mandatory minimum percentage of unrefined grain ingredients in products marketed using the word wholegrain.
- Often, baked products are made off-premise, baked again instore and marketed as ‘freshly baked’, which is in direct competition with small bakeries that bake from scratch and sell it straight away.
- As a processing aid, some additives do not have to be declared, again denying shoppers the knowledge of what is in their food.
- There is nothing stopping manufacturers from using the word ‘sourdough’ to market products made by fundamentally different processes that reduce or eliminate the necessary lactic acid bacterial fermentation.
The Campaign says it rejects the sourdough code of practice proposed in 2019, and believes that a TSG (or UK equivalent) in lieu of a legal definition of sourdough would create unnecessary and disproportionate costs and other challenges for SME bakeries.
“We believe that people spending their hard-earned cash have the right to know what they’re buying and that small bakery owners deserve to be able to compete on fair terms,” said Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young.
To back this up, it is asking bakery owners, workers and bread advocates to write to their local MP, as well as sign a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Enjoyed by all
The Campaign admits the biggest obstacle in making Real Bread For All is the gap between what it costs a small bakery to make sourdough and what people on lower incomes can afford – particularly prevalent in these times of unprecedented inflation.
In the spirit of inclusivity and with the 10th annual Sourdough September looming, it is encouraging bakers, retailers and caterers to start trialling ways of subsidising sourdough for those less fortunate.
The Campaign recommends the following, noting to be transparent to customers about what you are doing in support of people on lower incomes, why and how:
- Pay it forward scheme: A customer pays for two loaves, with half of the money going into the scheme.
- Inviting every customer to pay an optional 50p-£1, perhaps just on purchases of particular items.
- Reviewing all pricing, increasing margins on ‘luxury’/discretionary purchases, such as coffee or pastries, to fund the subsidy.
It says to then offer at least one line of genuine sourdough bread to people on lower incomes at a reduced price – “perhaps in the region of £2 for a large loaf and £1 for a small one,” said Young.
“An alternative is issuing vouchers, giving customers a choice which Real Bread they buy at a discounted price.
“We understand that this will be a challenge for some bakeries, especially with the price of everything skyrocketing. We hope that some will give it a go and that people in their local communities will be supportive of schemes to help neighbours who’re having a tougher time of it.”
The Real Bread Campaign created Sourdough September to encourage people to buy or bake their own genuine sourdough bread, while giving a boost to the charity behind the Campaign. Sustain was formed in 1999 by merging The National Food Alliance and the Sustainable Agriculture Food and Environment (SAFE) Alliance to work with communities towards a better system of food, farming and fishing.
“We created and offer this marketing opportunity for people to use in line with these aims in whatever way is also useful to their business/organisation. If you see the potential – please do grab it,” said Young, suggesting running sourdough baking classes, along with affordable community ones; giving away pots of starter with recipes and care guides; and using #SourdoughSeptember on social media; among other ideas.
Real Bread bakery owners are also invited to help create a Real Bread Map, as well as add their details to the Real Bread events calendar.