The Daily Telegraph
White bread back on the menu to cut costs
Waitrose reports 17pc rise in a year as households seek ‘warmth and security’ in more straitened times
Sliced white bread is making a comeback as shoppers start counting the pennies amid the cost of living crisis. Waitrose said sales of the product rose by 17 per cent over the past year. Experts said the rise was part of a wider resurgence in no-frills cooking as household budgets come under pressure. According to the annual John Lewis “How We Shop, Live and Look” report, sales of toastie makers and deepfat fryers rose over the year by 63 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.
FOOD snobs look away now: the sliced white loaf is making a comeback as the cost of living crisis is now at the centre of shoppers’ minds.
After churning out sourdough loaves of varying quality during the lockdowns, the British are falling back in love with soft sliced white bread.
Waitrose said sales of the product soared by 17 per cent over the past year.
Experts said that the rise was part of a wider resurgence in unpretentious, nofrills cooking at a time when rising costs are putting pressures on household budgets. According to the annual John Lewis “How We Shop, Live and Look” report, sales of sandwich makers and deep-fat fryers rose over the year by 63 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively.
The report also found that consumers are putting the pandemic behind them, with lockdown-related purchases all falling in popularity.
Sales of jigsaw puzzles were down 68 per cent, while non-wired comfort bras fell by 33 per cent.
Sales of loungewear velour tracksuits dropped by 50 per cent, while purchases of jeans jumped as people ventured out of their homes once more.
Wall-mounted desks were removed from sale, as “we reclaimed our homes and left the office at the office”.
A John Lewis spokesman said: “This year we’ve seen a profound shift in shopping behaviour. Customers have enjoyed the return of travel, part-time office working and in-store shopping.”
Bread bin sales also fell by 42 per cent as Britons put their baking skills on pause, returned to the office and started buying sandwiches for lunch instead. Richard Bainbridge, chef and owner of Benedicts restaurant in Norwich, said: “We’ve all got bleeding gums from the sourdough so need something softer!”
He said that consumers were increasingly looking for a hit of nostalgia to make them feel “warm and secure” during turbulent economic times. He has added a prawn cocktail starter to his restaurant menu, “which always gets a smile from customers”, he said.
It is a sentiment that puzzles our continental cousins. Raymond Blanc, the French Michelin-starred chef, weighed in earlier this year. He urged Britons to “start doing their own sourdough or focaccia – because white sliced bread is a stain on Britain’s food heritage”.
He said he was “frightened” by the loaves. “It’s made in factories and the vitamins are added synthetically. And the flavour? No flavour!... It is simply bad food.”
Bakers have also spoken out against this so-called “fake bread”.
Yet shoppers consumed £876 million worth of the loaves last year, according to figures compiled by Mintel, the market research agency.
It said that 62 per cent of shoppers buy white, sliced bread.
Chris Young, of the Campaign for Real Bread, said: “We encourage everyone who still has a degree of choice in how they spend their money to choose real bread from a local [bakery].”