Bertinet Bakery shines a spotlight on the sourfaux scandal and regeneratively farmed sourdough

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Bertinet Bakery is on a mission to shine a spotlight on authenic sourdough. Pic: Bertinet Bakery
Bertinet Bakery is on a mission to shine a spotlight on authenic sourdough. Pic: Bertinet Bakery

Related tags sourdough regenerative agriculture

The UK bakery manufacturer is an ardent advocate of ‘real bread’ that is not only better-tasting, but better for people and the planet.

The ‘sourfaux’ scandal is rampant in the UK and recently, the Real Bread Campaign named and shamed over 20 examples of so-called ‘deceivers’ – marketed as sourdough and sold at premium prices, but made from baker’s yeast, chemical raising agents and additives.

“Baking methods have been industrialised by so many companies that are producing products that have limited fermentation. This isn’t proper sourdough, it’s sourfaux,” said Anamorel Ogen, executive head baker for Bertinet Bakery.

That pinpoints the mission of Real Bread Week (17-25 February),​ the annual campaign hosted by the Real Bread Campaign to get people creating and eating naturally levelled bread.

The watchdog’s vision is a future in which everyone has the chance to choose real bread. Work towards this involves championing the additive-free breads and the people who make it, as well as challenging obstacles to their rise. Supporting activity includes the Knead to Know…more business handbook, The Real Bread Loaf Mark scheme, the Real Bread For All initiative and the Real Bread Map.

The first major bread brand to feature the Real Bread Campaign Sourdough mark​ on pack, Bertinet is determined to give more Brits access to real sourdough, a naturally leavened bread that avoids using commercial yeast or additives in favour of a starter created from a flour and water mix fermented by wild yeast and good bacteria.

“While Real Bread Week isn’t just about sourdough bread, Bertinet Bakery is one of the bakeries helping to put it within reach of many more people around the UK,” said Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young.

The role of RA in sourdough

Regenerative agriculture puzzle fotojog
Pic: GettyImages/fotojog

The Bath-based bakery manufacturer produces a range of sourdough in all shapes and sizes, recently launching three half-bloomers – Rustic Country White; Potato, Onion & Polenta and Seven Seeds & Grains – in Waitrose. The loaves are made from regeneratively farmed wheat, a farming model of growing food that protects and improves soil health, biodiversity, water retention and quality. RA farmers are committed to using a host of planet-friendly practices, including reducing soil disturbance, implementing wide crop diversity, integrating livestock, maintaining living routes and protecting the soil surface.

The practice harks back to the pre-industrialisation era of farming, but has gained real interest in the past few decades. In fact, Bertie Matthews, MD of Matthews Costwold Flour believes regenerative farming is the next big thing and over the next decade, sales of regeneratively produced food will eclipse organic sales. 

Despite the complexities involved in getting these breads onto the shelves, the range is positioned as a better-quality everyday option. Priced at £2.20, the half-bloomers bridge merge the convenience of sliced bread with all the complexities of traditional sourdough, while the smaller format makes it suitable for smaller households and cuts down on waste.

“Bread is a huge part of our diets and we believe the good stuff shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions,” said Dan Barrett, MD of Bertinet Bakery.

“Our recipe takes the goodness of genuine sourdough to the next level with softer, sliced everyday format that includes more diverse flours to enhance nutrition and taste benefits.”

On its website, the baker also noted its “deep-rooted respect for the soil, the farmer and the miller. That’s why, where possible we’ll always source local crops for grains that are naturally packed with flavour and goodness.”

Bertinet Bakery half-bloomers
Pic: Bertinet Bakery

Attention to detail

“Our team at Bertinet Bakery places close attention to the dough fermentation, temperatures and acidity, fully fermenting loaves, which creates perfectly balanced flavour and texture. A lot of products on the market haven’t had this level of attention,” added Ogen.

It’s this attention to detail that has seen Bertinet grow in leaps and bounds.

Off the back of a major brand awareness​ and trial-driving campaign, the bakery reached its highest-ever penetration and number of customers in Waitrose. Its two month-long store-adjacent toastie sampling campaign saw a 235% increase in sales.

And in the past quarter alone, Bertinet has experienced a 50% growth in unit sales. Innovation lies at the core of the bakery and its team continuously looks to improve the taste, better-for-you functionality and environmental impact of their offerings.

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