Two of the most important organization of bakers in Europe, Fedima and AIBI, co-organized a symposium titled “Bread Promotion Activities in Europe”, on April 18. The event held in Brussels, Belgium, was dedicated to learning about the importance of bread, its promotion opportunities and sharing best practices.
In the past years bread consumption has been steadily declining (in 17 EU countries from an average of 67 kg in 2004, to 63 kg per capita in 2016), the associations explain. This can be attributed to many factors such as more critical consumers, lack of knowledge about the benefits of bread, negative media coverage, availability of alternative foods and others. Several ongoing initiatives aim to reverse the trend and promote bread consumption.
Participants to the symposium agreed that a common approach within the entire bakery supply chain is the most effective in order to tackle all the challenges that the industry currently faces.
The opening speech as given by Johan Sanders, Fedima president, who explained the importance of the symposium and pointed out that “we strongly believe that bread is a great food product that deserves more attention. Bread is nutritious, versatile and a traditional element of the diets across Europe.”
Afterwards, Joseph Street (AIBI president) introduced AIBI and some of the associations’ main activities in the field of bread promotion. He stated that “it has always been my belief that all bread, and I emphasize the word all, should be seen in a positive light.”
Bread, “under Attack”
Both associations focus heavily on bread promotion, together with their members. Furthermore, craft bakers, millers and bakery ingredient producers help as well to ensure a good image of bread. Throughout the day, participants were provided with several perspectives on bread in diets, as well as the challenges linked to bread consumption.
Prof. Dr. Fred Brouns (University of Maastricht) provided factual details related to concerns about bread and gluten in our daily diet, and explained some of the popular concerns that have arisen and have no scientific foundation. Nowadays, bread is “under attack”, as incomplete information damages the image of bread and causes confusion among consumers, according to information shared at the event.
In addition, specific EU policy on promoting agricultural products and ways in which it could benefit the bread sector, in particular, were addressed.
Elodie Clerc, (EU Commission – DG Agriculture and Rural Development) presented the EU’s new Promotion Policy for Agricultural Products. Participants learned that in 2018, a total of EUR179 million is made available for promotion programs selected for EU co-financing, via the EU Agricultural Promotion Program. One of those financed programs is BreadForEurope – a Belgian/Dutch project that was presented by Zsuzsan Proos (Dutch Bakery Center, Netherlands). This joint initiative is based on several pillars, including the fact that bread is part of European heritage and is deeply anchored in our culture. She explained all the various outreach elements of the campaign as well as the initial process of applying for funding.
Among speakers, Kathou Wagemans (Federation of Large Bakeries in Belgium) introduced the Belgian Bread & Health Institute. Its goals are to provide objective, scientifically proven information on bread and its impact on health and to promote bread as part of a healthy diet.
Bread the Future Campaign
The next presenter was Jana Ramuš (Slovenian Chamber of Agriculture), who outlined the Slovenian initiative – Excellent Bakery Products and Bread Gold Awards. A team of experts scientifically judges the products considered for this award, over a certain period. This initiative stimulates the sector to ensure overall good quality.
In his presentation – “How insects can sell bread”, Martin Lundell (Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners) talked about the “Bread the Future” campaign in Sweden trying to promote bread as environmentally friendly through a disruptive viral campaign.
Stefan Cappelle and Martina Goernemann concluded the panel by introducing their book: “Sourdough: Four Days to Happiness”. The book documents the authors’ travels to different destinations around the world to tell stories about people, bread and sourdough – it is available in English and German.
The last part of the symposium was an interactive workshop during which participants had an opportunity to sit together with potential partners in the bakery supply chain to exchange views and ideas for the launch of promotion activities.