T he UK is the world’s bargain basement for bread according to new figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit, supplied exclusively to British Baker.

Despite press headlines this month about rising bread costs, such as "Bread set to break the £1 a loaf barrier", the UK is actually one of the cheapest countries in the world for bread. People in Israel, Colombia and China could buy cheaper bread in London than at home, and Manchester bread prices are even cheaper than in London.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of bread prices in 130 countries around the world was gathered by mystery shoppers in September 2006. It reveals that the average price of a kilo of bread in London is £1.09, which makes it 81st on price out of 130 cities surveyed. The average kilo of bread in Manchester is 88p, making it 103rd in the ranking.

The survey also illustrates how cheap supermarket bread, in particular, is in the UK, compared to other countries around the world.

A kilo of bread in a supermarket in London costs 61p. That means London’s supermarkets rank 114th on price out of the 130 cities the EIU tracks. A kilo sold in a Manchester supermarket, the other UK city in the survey came in at 69p.

The survey also indicates a gap between London’s supermarket prices and prices of bread on sale in its top end retailers (such as Selfriges Food Hall).

price gap

The mystery shoppers identified a gap of £1.03 between the supermarket price and the high-end price in London. That compares to much smaller gaps in many other countries around the world. In Munich, for example, the gap is only 30p, in Cairo it is 10p, and even in Manchester the gap was only 39p.

Food and drink analyst and Economist Intelligence Unit survey editor Jon Copestake explained that prices are worked out for each city by taking the weight and cost of a typical loaf of bread and calculating price per kilo.

He commented: "Clearly, supermarket bought bread in the UK is a different quality to some of the commonly eaten breads in other countries. And there are also economies of scale, as in the UK we take an 800g loaf, whereas in Northern Europe, we may pick up a 400g loaf.

"The main thing in the UK is that retailers are pushy on commodity breads; bread is one of the key products used in price wars." n