In 2018, the Real Bread Campaign turned ten. Far from growing stale, marking its first decade injected extra vigour into the Campaign’s work, says coordinator Chris Young.
Ten years! Blimey. I’m not celebrating, though: That comes when we put ourselves out of business because there’s no longer a need for a Real Bread Campaign. There’s plenty of work still to be done and this year we’ve kept our noses to the grindstone. Here are some of the highlights
Our annual international Real Bread Week once again saw people of all ages baking the own additive-free loaves or buying them from local, independent bakeries. Anna Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery said: “I just wanted to let you know how great Real Bread Week was for us. We definitely experienced an increase in online sales especially of bread making equipment.”
As well as many bakeries, organisations getting involved included Sydmar Lodge care home, Derwen College for young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, Priors Court, which works with young people with profound autism, and more than a dozen Busy Bees nurseries. One of the team from the nursery in Wakefield said: “Baking is a fundamental part of any child's learning as it helps to develop their physical skills through mixing, mathematics skills as they weigh out ingredients and their communication and language skills as they follow instructions.”
Kicked off by two posts from Jamie Oliver, the initiative generated more than 2000 #RealBreadWeek tweets, with messages coming from Tenerife, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Venezuela and a baker en route to Pakistan, and more than 2500 posts on Instagram.
In January, we launched the No Loaf Lost surplus reduction guide for SME bakeries, which was downloaded 125 times, with seven bakeries signing the No Loaf Lost pledge to take action, by the end of March.
In April, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled in favour of our complaint that Pret A Manger using the word natural to advertise products made using artificial additives is misleading and banned the company from doing so.
In June, we began a month of encouraging people to email their local MPs asking them to nudge the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to take action, after he had failed to reply to any of the 1500 people who wrote to him in support of our Honest Crust Act call for improved loaf labelling and marketing legislation. Within 24 hours, more than 100 people had taken the action and less than a week later, seven MPs had either submitted a Parliamentary Question or written directly to Mr Gove. By the time the action ended, around 300 people had written to their MPs, of whom more than 50 responded.
On Saturday 7 July, more than 60 bakers, millers and other Real Bread lovers enjoyed twelve hours of baking, clay oven making and chatting at BATCH: South West, the Real Bread Campaign and Brook Food Processing Equipment’s mini-festival. One attendee said: “I’m setting up a new business and the event proved invaluable for getting to grips with what I will need to make bread and baked goods the heart of it. Staggered by the generosity of the experts.”
Also in July, more than 600 Latitude Festival goers enjoyed demos and talks curated by the Real Bread Campaign as guests of Theatre of Food.
In August, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs responded to the Campaign’s Honest Crust Act call in a letter to Caroline Lucas MP, though it was not the response we were seeking.
The sixth annual international Sourdough September generated lots of media coverage, and The WI’s recipe of the week was taken from our book Slow Dough: Real Bread...which, incidentally, continues to sell more than 200 copies a quarter. We also saw 3750 Instagram posts, and #SourdoughSeptember tweets from the UK, Ireland, USA, Argentina, UAE, Nigeria, Germany, Portugal, Singapore, Venezuela, Spain and Australia.
In October, consumer association Which? published findings of research it carried out in conjunction with us, reporting that of 19 loaves marketed as sourdough they looked at, at least 12 were what we call sourfaux.
Also in October, we were quoted on the front page of a national newspaper reacting to the revelation that some of Pret a Manger’s ‘freshly baked’ baguettes are in fact made in France and frozen to be rebaked at a later date in store. Following this, in November we accepted an invitation from Pret’s CEO to a meeting, where they updated us on progress on some of the changes we have been urging them to make since 2015.
We also relaunched our website, including a new, interactive Real Bread Map to help people find – and small business owners to promote - Real Bread, baking classes, equipment and flour from independent mills. This was accompanied by the re-launch of our Real Bread Loaf Mark scheme to help bakeries give their customers an at-a-glance additive-free loaf assurance. All this in a month when 12 of the 17 category winners at this year’s World Bread Awards, including overall champion and special merit award, were loaves baked by Real Bread Campaign supporters.
In November, we received a letter from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stating Defra’s commitment to reviewing loaf labelling and marketing laws.
Ten years to the day since the official launch of the Real Bread Campaign, around 130 of us gathered at E5 Bakehouse for BATCH: London. In addition to networking and skill sharing, attendees helped raise more than £3000 towards continuing our work.
As ever, we worked hard to keep Real Bread in the public eye, securing coverage by media including The Australian, Bakery Business, BBC 6 Music, BBC Good Food, BBC World Service, The Big Issue, British Baker, Business Insider, The Caterer, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, Delicious, Eater, Food, Foodism, The Grocer, The Guardian, Gulf Times, The Independent, iNews, The Irish Independent, London Evening Standard, Marketing Week, Metro, Munchies, The New York Post, The Observer, PR Week, Resurgence & Ecologist, Saturday Kitchen, Scotsman Food & Drink, Sky News, South China Morning Post, The Sun, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Times, TimeOut, Vegetarian Living, Waitrose Food, Waitrose Weekend and Which?, on top of many regional and local titles.
In addition to our regular Real Bread Week (23 February – 3 March) and Sourdough September, 2019 will see us launching #WeAreRealBread to throw the spotlight on some of the many faces behind the rise of Real Bread, seeking new official ambassadors, and working to secure funding for a new book.
We will also be working to raise dough to continue No Loaf Lost, and to reinvigorate our Together We Rise social and therapeutic baking project, and plan to work with local partners on more BATCH events.
Do join us for the trip!