An Honest Crust Act for a better bread Britain

Real Bread bakeries help to support more jobs per loaf than largely automated industrial loaf fabricators.

Not on the label: Made elsewhere using additives, then merely re-baked in store. By Chris Young / CC-BY-SA 4.0

Blogs / Real Bread Campaign

Real Bread bakeries help to support more jobs per loaf than largely automated industrial loaf fabricators.

The Real Bread Campaign lobbies for a change in loaf labelling and marketing legislation, an Honest Crust Act, that would help to shift part of the loaf market to small, local, independent Real Bread businesses.

Job creation

  • At present, the UK baking industry employs around 31,000 people, which includes cake-makers and biscuiteers.
  • Britons reportedly buy something like 12 million loaves a day, mostly ultra-processed products manufactured in highly-automated factories using many additives.
  • If this number of loaves were crafted by Real Bread bakers instead, it could support something like 75,000 jobs* - more than twice as many jobs as the current entire baking industry.

Even a more modest shift to purchasing Real Bread crafted by a more diverse set of smaller producers would lead to a growth in jobs.

Better for people

On top of this job creation would be the positive effects on each SME bakery’s local community and economy, which would benefit from greater reinvestment of every pound spent.

Then there’s job satisfaction. How fulfilling would you find overseeing a fully-automated, computer-controlled industrial loaf production line, or loading frozen, part-baked products into a supermarket’s loaf tanning salon? We believe that the expertise and craft skills accumulated and used by Real Bread bakers are likely to make their jobs more fulfilling, therefore better supporting their wellbeing.

Shopping in the dark

One of the barriers to growth of Real Bread bakeries is that some manufacturers and retailers are denying shoppers the chance to make fully-informed buying choices. We believe that shoppers are left exposed to this by loopholes in labelling laws, plus a lack of protection from misleading marketing.

Retailers can - legally - choose to sell many loaves and sandwiches without displaying an ingredients list, while additives known as ‘processing aids’ don’t have to be declared to shoppers anywhere at all. Meanwhile, consumer protection bodies say that lack of a legal definition of bread, plus commonly-used marketing terms, allows industrial fabricators, supermarkets and others to use them more or less as they see fit.

An Honest Crust Act would help to level out the playing field on which Real Bread bakeries (that do actually make genuine sourdough - and other bread - fresh from scratch using artisan skills and no additives) can compete with manufacturers that just talk the talk.

It would include mandatory full ingredient declaration at point of sale for all loaves, wraps, sandwiches and so on, plus meaningful, legal definitions of bread and commonly used descriptors such as fresh / freshly-baked, wholegrain, sourdough, artisan, craft, traditional, heritage wheat and ancient grains. Shoppers could then more easily see what they're getting and whether or not any comparisons they make are truly like-for-like.

What now?

Back in November 2018, Michael Gove, the then Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, promised to review the regulations. In October 2020 we asked the current incumbent at Defra, George Eustice, for a progress report. Despite the department’s target response time of 20 days, and us chasing a reply, we’d still heard nothing back over seven weeks later.

We continue to chase and are planning what we – and you – can do next if the reply is inadequate, or doesn’t come at all. Sign up to our FREE mailing list to stay informed. Better still, please join us to support this – and the rest of our charity’s bready work.

*This calculation is based upon baker and Real Bread Campaign co-founder Andrew Whitley’s estimate that a skilled baker can craft at most 200 loaves per day, then adding an extra 25% to our artisan baking army for retail staff and to cover days off for holidays and sickness.

Published to coincide with the Sustain Annual Conference 2020, Wednesday 9 December. #Sustain2020

Published Wednesday 9 December 2020

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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Chris Young has coordinated the Real Bread Campaign since March 2009. In addition to lobbying for an Honest Crust Act of better loaf composition, labelling and marketing laws; he created and runs Sourdough September; Real Bread Week; Real Bread For All; Together We Rise promoting therapeutic/social benefits and bread making; the No Loaf Lost surplus reduction initiative; as well as Lessons in Loaf and Bake Your Lawn for schools. He’s the author of the Knead to Know…more microbakery handbook and Slow Dough: Real Bread recipe book; and edits True Loaf magazine.

Chris Young
Campaign Coordinator Real Bread Campaign

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