David Smart, president of the Craft Bakers Association, has given an impassioned defence of artisan bread on BBC Radio 5 Live.
He was speaking in the wake of research carried out by The Grocer, which showed the value of wrapped bread had continued to plummet. The total value of the sector is down 8.9% since a year ago, taking it below £1.5bn, and 75p is now a common price for an 800g loaf of bread. Sales volume is also down, with 50m fewer loaves sold in supermarkets last year.
Smart blamed the fall in sales on the quality of the product being sold, describing it as “garbage” which had been commoditised into a tool for supermarkets to draw in customers.
He said: “When was the last time you ate an absolutely terrible loaf? Would you go back for it? No, you wouldn’t. So if you don’t go back for it, they [retailers] don’t sell another one. Can’t they understand this?”
He said that, while some people were eating less bread for dietary reasons, others were trading up to buy loaves from craft bakers, and he defended the higher price point of craft loaves.
He said: “These same people are going to a high street coffee shop and buying a cappuccino, let’s face it, for £3.10 and it’s brown sludge. Yet you won’t buy a quality loaf for £2-£2.50?
“It’s worth it, it’s good value, it’s made by a craftsman, it employs people and it tastes really good. Bread is good for you!”
Click here to listen to the whole clip from BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast, first aired on 10 May 2016.