News Real Bread Campaign

Freshly faked by Morrisons?

The Real Bread Campaign’s trading standards complaint.

Re-baked daily. Credit: Chris Young / CC-BY-SA-4.0

Re-baked daily. Credit: Chris Young / CC-BY-SA-4.0

Morrisons, the UK’s fifth largest supermarket chain, markets products in ‘The Baker’ section of its stores using claims including 'baked fresh daily', 'baked right here' and 'baked here every day'. The company reinforce these messages on its website, and by displaying the products in ways that are distinctly different from merchandising in the rest of the store.

The Real Bread Campaign has found that Morrisons uses such marketing at stores where no bread is freshly made from scratch on site, instead re-baking products that were manufactured elsewhere. 

Believing that such marketing is misleading and breaches consumer protection regulations, on 11 June 2024 the Campaign sent a complaint to Wakefield Council, Morrisons’ Primary Authority for trading standards.

To be clear, this complaint is not that Morrisons is making cheap products widely available, it is about how the company is marketing them.

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Morrisons’ silence

To ascertain the general picture, on 30 May 2024 the Campaign emailed the following questions to the customer services team:

  1. How many stores does Morrisons operate in the UK?
  2. At how many of these stores are all bread products in 'The Baker' section made and baked fresh from scratch on site?
  3. At how many of these stores are all bread products in 'The Baker' section made elsewhere and then re-baked in-store?
  4. At how many of these stores are bread products in 'The Baker' section a mix of lines made and baked fresh from scratch on site, and lines made elsewhere and then re-baked in-store?
  5. How do shoppers find out whether or not all bread products in in 'The Baker' section of a particular store are made and baked fresh from scratch on site? 

A customer services agent twice declined to answer the questions ‘due to limited access’. The Campaign then emailed the questions to the company’s press office on 3 June 2024, following up on the 6th and 7th, but did not receive a reply.

A re-baked product is not freshly made or freshly baked

FSA guidance states: ‘Terms such as “freshly baked”, “baked in store” and “oven fresh” may mislead consumers into believing that they are being offered products that have been freshly produced on site from basic raw materials. Some stores sell bread made from part-baked products that have been packed in an inert atmosphere or frozen off-site then “baked off” at in-store bakeries. Use of terms like “freshly baked”, “baked in store” and “oven fresh” on these products could potentially infringe the general legal provisions…’ 

These provisions include Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, which states that ‘it is a general principle of food law to provide a basis for consumers to make informed choices in relation to food they consume and to prevent any practices that may mislead the consumer.’ More specifically, Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 requires that ‘food information shall not be misleading, particularly: (a) as to the characteristics of the food and, in particular, as to its nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production.’

Morrisons uses the claims 'baked fresh daily', 'baked right here' and 'baked here every day' at stores in which pre-made ‘bread’ products are merely loaded into what the Campaign calls loaf tanning salons - ovens in which they’re re-baked to brown and crisp the crust. Alongside ‘bread’ products, pastries might be made elsewhere and receive their first baking in a Morrisons store but this is still not what the average consumer would understand such claims to mean. 

As no ‘bread’ product is ‘freshly baked’ or ‘freshly baked’ in such stores, the Campaign believes that Morrisons’ use of these claims to market them is misleading and breaches the regulations.

Online claims

Under a banner of ‘More bread freshly baked in store’, a page on the Morrisons website claims: At Morrisons you'll find more bread freshly baked in store than any other supermarket. Head to our Market Street Baker's counter for 27 varieties of fresh bread, baked in store every day.’ The page also states ‘we bake our fresh bread from scratch right here’ claim, twice.

Clearly these claims do not apply to all Morrisons’ stores. The Campaign believes that Morrisons failing to state which do not, or providing shoppers a simple way to find out, is misleading and breaches the regulations.

Facts frozen out?

Shoppers have the right to know if a product has been re-baked as the process uses around twice as much energy as baking a product once and so can have a negative environmental impact. Re-baking also has a negative impact on the quality of a product in that it is likely to stale more quickly than genuinely fresh bread that has only been baked once. This has potential for negative environmental impact as it increases the risk of food waste in the home, at a financial cost to the shopper.

Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 requires that: ‘The name of the food shall include or be accompanied by particulars as to the physical condition of the food or the specific treatment which it has undergone (for example, powdered, refrozen, freeze-dried, quick-frozen, concentrated, smoked) in all cases where omission of such information could mislead the purchaser.’ 

Due to the company’s reticence to answer the Campaign’s questions, it is unclear if / to what extent Morrisons follows the common supermarket practice of selling products that were made, baked and then frozen at one site, to be transported to and re-baked at another. The Campaign believes that doing so without declaring at point of sale (or on its website) that this has taken place would breach this regulation and section 6 on misleading omissions of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in that ‘the commercial practice omits material information’. This would be compounded by stating that such products are 'baked fresh daily', 'baked right here' and 'baked here every day'.

Misleading merchandising?

Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 requires that the: ‘presentation of food or feed, including their shape, appearance or packaging, the packaging materials used, the manner in which they are arranged and the setting in which they are displayed, and the information which is made available about them through whatever medium, shall not mislead consumers.’ 

Displays in ‘The Baker’ section of Morrisons stores include slatted wooden shelving, which is markedly different from the painted white metal shelves used in the rest of the store. The Campaign believes that Morrisons presenting re-baked factory products as if freshly-made in an artisan bakery breaches this regulation, particularly as it amplifies - and is amplified by – the ‘freshly made in store’ and ‘freshly baked in store every day’ claims, in a mutually-reinforcing marketing echo chamber.

Unfair competition?

Being able to profit from thousands of high margin, non-bakery items, Morrisons can sell ‘The Bakery’ products at low prices. This is enhanced by the economy of scale of centralised manufacture of a number of products (which, in some stores’ cases, is all) sold in ‘The Bakery’.

The company, however, still markets mass-produced, re-baked items using claims and merchandising that will lead the average consumer to believe the products have been freshly made from scratch on site by skilled bakers, as they are in not only some Morrisons’ stores by also in small bakeries. The Campaign believes that Morrisons’ marketing represents unfair competition with these small, independent businesses that create skilled, meaningful jobs, and help to keep money circulating in local economies.

A long time ago in a bakery far, far away?

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 requires that: ‘The indication of the country of origin or of the place of provenance of a food should be provided whenever its absence is likely to mislead consumers as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of that product.’ The regulation goes on to state: ‘In all cases, the indication of country of origin or place of provenance should be provided in a manner which does not deceive the consumer and on the basis of clearly defined criteria which ensure a level playing field for industry and improve consumers’ understanding of the information related to the country of origin or place of provenance of a food.’

The Campaign questions whether, in common with other multiple retailers, some products in ‘The Bakery’ are made outside the UK, but not declared on labels or point of sale displays. 

If Morrisons is selling re-baked products that were manufactured outside the UK, without disclosing their true origins, the company is depriving shoppers of important information that the Campaign believes further contributes to unfair competition with bakeries that make bread fresh from scratch in the UK. If Morrisons is misleading customers by omission in this way, the company’s claims and merchandising would serve to reinforce the breach of regulations.

See also

Help us expose the (not so great) British fake off


12 June 2024: Wakefield Council replied that West Yorkshire Joint Services is Morrisons' Primary Authority for trading standards, copying in the relevant officer at WYJS.

Published Tuesday 11 June 2024

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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