Loaves of bread for sale on a wooden table

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Food and farming charity Sustain has published its Real Bread For All guide to help small, independent businesses explore ways of making bread more accessible to customers.

The 16-page guide was written by the Real Bread Campaign and is available as a free-to-download PDF via the Sustain website

The Campaign defines ‘real bread’ as having been made without processing aids or artificial additives.

“Everyone in the UK should be able to afford real bread but for a growing number of people this simply is not realistic,” said Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young. “At the same time, many real bread bakers are struggling to earn an honest crust without increasing their prices.

“Our guide is informed by examples from bakeries that have addressed the challenges of offering real bread at a lower price in ways that don’t undermine its true value and at a time that’s increasingly tough on their site of the counter as well,” Young added.

Key issues addressed in the 16-page Real Bread For All guide include:

  • What bread? – thinking about which kinds of more affordable real bread to produce that are appropriate to people’s needs, such as sliced loaves and flatbreads as well as sourdough
  • How much? – establishing a correct pricing strategy best suited to the customer base with overall costs considered
  • Who pays? – working out who will cover the higher costs associated with real bread production: this could be a combination of the business, consumers, suppliers, and possibly via support from local or regional companies or organisations
  • Where to sell? – identifying sales locations other than the baker’s shop or a farmers’ market stall
  • Who else could you work with? – partnering with local organisations or projects that work with people experiencing poverty, ideally involving people with that lived experience
  • Marketing – cracking communications with customers to clarify why lower-priced bread is being offered and avoid stigmatisation

The free guide includes notes on public catering, which it says represents a huge opportunity to put real bread on the subsidised plates of around a quarter of the population including school pupils, hospital patients, prisoners, students, care home residents, and service personnel.

The Real Bread Campaign is a project co-founded by Sustain in 2008, which aims to create a more level playing field for small bakeries and help shoppers make better-informed buying choices. It is also pushing for better legal definitions of bread and to ensure a full declaration of ingredients and additives is given on the label or point of sale display.

The campaign recently wrote to bosses at major supermarkets asking why white flour appears on the ingredients list of some of their wholemeal loaves. It was also highly critical of a code of practice for the labelling and marketing of sourdough published by the Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers back in February.