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Real Bread Campaign sourdough survey

The results of a survey of Real Bread bakers carried out by the Real Bread Campaign in April 2011.

  • 87% of bakers who responded told us that they bake sourdough
  • 67% said that they have seen an increase in sales of sourdough since they started producing it
  • 18.4% said sourdough accounted for 75-100% of their sales

Do you bake and or/sell sourdough bread?

Yes 87%
No 5.2%
Used to but stopped 3.9%
Planning to start 3.9

If you do bake/sell sourdough have you seen any increase in sales since you began doing so?

Yes 67.1%
Not much change 17.1%
No - it has decreased 1.3%
Not applicable 14.5

Sourdough accounts for roughly what percentage of your current bread sales?

I don't sell sourdough 14.5%
Less than 5% 9.2%
6-10% 18.4%
11-25% 13.2%
26-50% 13.2%
51-75% 13.2%
75-99% 10.5%
100% 7.9

If you do bake/sell sourdough, for approximately how long have you been doing so?

A year or less 14.5%
1-3 years 42.1%
4-6 years 6.6%
7-10 years 9.2%
10 years + 17.1%
Not applicable 10.5
* Results compiled from 77 responents to an online survey sent to all bakers who had listed their loaves on the Campaign's Real Bread Finder.

Why are sales of sourdough on the rise?

Finally, we asked 'If you have seen a change in sales of sourdough, what do you feel is the reason?'

NB: The following quites are the opinions of respondents and not necessarily of the Real Bread Campaign. Certain statements are based on individual observations, rather than peer-reviewed scientific studies. That said, we believe that the growing body of observational evidence such as this supports our belief that investment in further research into the possible health and nutritional benefits of genuine sourdough and other long-fermented Real Breads is vital and long-overdue.

Simply it tastes better. That's what our customers say.

Once people try sourdough they often prefer the texture, taste and keeping ability.

There is very little Real Bread available to buy in this area - once customers have tasted our bread the usual response is to recommend us to our friends and to become regular customers themselves. Many of our customers have told us our bread does not give them bloat/indigestion/tiredness etc. and will now only eat our bread. Many thought they weren't able to eat bread and are relieved to be able to enjoy bread again!

Taste and character seem to be the reasons for the popularity.

Sourdough can be eaten by a wider group of people as it is less likely to cause them any dietary problems. I think it is worth stressing that this only really applies to real sourdough, not the many that are now appearing with baker’s yeast included. By 'real' I mean sourdough based on a leaven made at the bakery from flour at that bakery. On the market we don't push the [fact that it is] sourdough [on the] label but prefer people just to see it as good bread. When asked about the bread we explain how it is made and a lot of people are bowled over when they realise the whole stall is full of sourdough bread with lots to choose from, not just the odd loaf tucked away in the corner.

We have worked hard at consistency and improving the product and I think this has accounted for a lot of the success of the product. Once you switch to Real Bread, you can't go back.

Returning customers cite flavour and digestibility as the main reasons for loyalty to sourdough.

The rye sourdough has always been one of our staples for over 20 years but there as definitely been a surge in interest in sourdough bread in the last few years. It just seems to be the fashionable thing at the moment! We have many customers asking for sourdough starter so that they can bake their own.

…sourdough is a core part of our production, and an additional outlet has just increased their order for sourdough by 100% in 3 weeks, which is great for us, and presumably their customers too! We also have a number of customers with yeast intolerance who find the sourdough suits them as they can eat it with no adverse reaction.

Taste of the sourdoughs as my bakers ferment them for longer, they keep well and go well with many of the new cheeses that my customers are trying. As they are fermented for longer customers that don't normally eat much bread say they don't upset their stomachs.

Because it is a quality product and you can see it, there is no quick way or short cut in making it and I think the general public are more aware of this these days with an increase in media coverage. I have plenty of customers who buy this as a treat so it’s almost got a ‘luxury’ status among my customers.

Because it is more digestible. Many of our customers have digestive problems and do not want to give up eating bread altogether. Sourdough, fermented for three days, as our bread is, is much gentler on the digestive system.

I started baking sourdough breads without added yeast only and had feedback about good taste. I built the business around sourdough breads. Some people try to avoid baker’s yeast that causes them irritations or illness.

I feel that info is the key once people understand the benefits (especially people with dietary problems) they feel more confident and are more willing to pay the extra…

People are starting to understand the benefits of sourdough, and what it means in the end product. We actively get asked for sourdoughs, and they are very popular with our wholesale customers as there is nothing that is more ‘real’ than sourdough bread. Ours is deliberately tempered such that there is not an overly strong sour note to it. We find this allows us to sell it as sourdough to those who want it, or to sell it just as damn good crusty, healthy, tasty bread to those who are not familiar with it.

We do get lots of people in however interested in the benefits of long fermentation and also claiming to have wheat / yeast intolerances for which sourdough ticks their boxes.

Sourdough initially is purchased as a curiosity and often as a result of media attention being given to it. Once eaten customers tell us of dietary satisfaction, better taste and significantly better keeping which in turn makes them use it as a more significant part of their staple diet. Usage generally increases to virtually 100% of their bread consumption with those customers that are convinced by it.

Good quality bread for reasonable prices baked on premises.

The flavour is particularly good and we do have aficionados who've come over 100 miles to buy it. We've had some customers say they can eat it, but couldn't eat supermarket bread, so it suits them. We do see some peaks in sales when people like Hugh Fearlessly Eats-it-all appear on TV praising the sourdough or if we've had some good press in the national papers. Long may the rise in popularity continue!

[Because]…it's bloody good!!!


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