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The Real Bread Campaign turns fifteen

Looking back on decade and a half of the battle for better bread.

Raise a toast.... Credit: Canva / CC-BY-SA-4.0

Raise a toast.... Credit: Canva / CC-BY-SA-4.0

On 26 November 2008, baker Andrew Whitley joined members of the Sustain team and other Real Bread lovers at Celtic Bakers in north London to launch the Real Bread Campaign.

Backed by a widespread network of supporters, what the Campaign has created, done and achieved since then includes:

Chris Young, who has run the Campaign since March 2009, said: “On one hand, we’re delighted that passion for the rise of Real Bread continues to grow and are very grateful that people still value our charity’s work enough to keep supporting it.”

He went on to say, however: “On the other, I’m saddened and frustrated that there should still be the need for a Real Bread Campaign. As with any self-respecting campaigner, one of my key aims is to put myself out of a job by helping to ensure that what we’re fighting for happens and what we’re fighting against ends. While we’ve made progress, we’re not there yet.”

A short retrospective

In 2018, we published a 10th anniversary review. On top of year-round drive to secure media coverage, and our annual Real Bread Week and Sourdough September, here’s a glimpse at the Real Bread Campaign’s work and achievements during the five years since then.


As the result of our work, Pret began removing the word ‘natural’ from its logo and marketing.


Echoing our long-standing proposal, the Food Standards Agency declared that full ingredient labelling ‘should be provided on pre-packed for direct sale food’. Following campaigning led by the family of the late Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, Defra announced this would become law in 2021. We urged Defra to reject a proposed ‘UK Baking Industry Code of Practice for the Labelling of Sourdough Bread and Rolls’, calling it a sourfaux cheats’ charter. We recruited a new batch of ambassadors to better reflect the diversity of people in our network. We teamed up with Grow Your Own Playground on Lessons in Loaf: London


As part of our Together We Rise initiative, we threw the spotlight on inspiring organisations helping people to bake a better future and published a guide to mindful baking. Our response to the lockdowns at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic included providing guidance for small bakery owners, and calling on the Prime Minister to support them. We also published a list of mills and flour-saving bread recipes for homebakers in response to the shortage.


We crowdfunded and published Knead to Know...more, the revised, updated and expanded version of our Real Bread business handbook. After more than 12 years of our lobbying, Defra began reviewing The Bread And Flour Regulations. Our Baking a Better Career webinar saw Real Bread bakery professionals from both sides of the Atlantic share their experiences of better supporting their team members. We also ran the Microbakery 101 webinar to inform and inspire people setting up Real Bread businesses. We complained to the Competition and Markets Authority that current loaf marketing and labelling regulations put SME bakeries at a disadvantage. We recruited the next batch of Campaign ambassadors to help reflect and inspire greater diversity of people who identify as being part of the wider Real Bread movement; and launched a Welsh language version of The Loaf Mark.


This year we: sent a letter, signed by more than 150 bakery professionals, urging Defra to include our Honest Crust Act proposals in the public consultation on its review of bread composition, labelling and marketing regulations; began an investigation into products named or marketed using the word wholemeal, despite containing up to 50% white flour; co-hosted a Real Bread For All event at e5 Bakehouse; ran Not All Real Bread is White, an open-to all celebration of Black bakers and Real Bread bakery owners; worked with the Open University on a report about the SME bakery sector; teamed up with Matthews Cotswold Flour and The School of Artisan Food to offer subsidised places on a microbakery course run by The School. We also called on the Prime Minister to support small bakery businesses in the fact of the cost-of-everything crises.


In the first eight months, we: published our Real Bread For All affordability guide for bakeries; lobbied for governmental support for small bakeries through the cost of energy/everything crisis; crowdfunded publication of our Bake Your Lawn book; teamed up with Scotland the Bread for the first-ever Scottish Real Bread Festival; launched the Untold Stories Fund to pay True Loaf contributors; slogged on with our Honest Crust Act lobbying, including gathering more than 1000 signatures on a letter we sent to the government.

Back in June 2022 we began investigations into high-profile brands using the word wholemeal in the naming of advertising of products made using non-wholemeal flour. In October 2023 we learned that, as a result of this work, Defra had written to (some) trading standards officers confirming our long-standing assertion that The Bread and Flour Regulations prohibit the practice. The following month, Defra advised that following more than a decade of our lobbying, work to consider a definition for wholegrain had been added as part of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition future work programme.

The fight continues!

You can read full details of all of this and the rest of our work to date (and in the future) in the latest news section of our website.

*Hint* birthday present *cough*

Some say it’s rude to ask...but then others say if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Do you love what the Campaign stands for and does? Would you like to help the charity Sustain be able to continue our work championing Real Bread and the people who make it, as well as challenging obstacles to their rise? These are a few ways that you can:

…and if you want one that will cost you nothing: please spread the word! 

Whether via social media, talking with people, in print or whatever means of communication you use, please encourage people to visit our website to see what we do and support us.

See also

Published Sunday 26 November 2023

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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