ASEMAC: Bread Consumption in Spain Slows Its Decline

On Friday, June 21, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, Luis Planas, presented the 2023 Food Consumption Report in Spain, which indicates that food and beverage consumption remained almost stable—declining by 0.7% compared to the previous year—with a total of 685.02 kg/l per capita, says Silvia Martín, Director of Food Regulations at the Spanish Association of the Bakery, Pastry, and Confectionery Industry (ASEMAC). The evolution of expenditure was higher, growing by 7.5%, reaching a total of EUR115.917,42m , or EUR2,732.77 per capita in 2023.

Specifically, regarding bread, Spanish households reduced bread purchases by 1% in 2023, compared to a 7.2% decline in 2022 and an 8.1% decline in 2021, highlighting a slowdown in the consumption decline. On average, each Spaniard consumed 27.35 kg of bread in 2023, a 2.1% decrease compared to the previous year, representing 96 million fewer loaves sold. Bread now represents less than 5% of the total household basket volume in Spain.

If we look back to the 1960s, says Martin, a period when bread consumption at home began to decline, household consumption was estimated at 130 kg per person per year. Changes in dietary habits have led to an unstoppable decline. Considering 1990, when ASEMAC was founded, the total amount of bread purchased by households was 48.60 kg per person per year. Thus, consumption has almost halved in 35 years, not helped by the persistent myth that “bread makes you fat” and changes in work and social patterns.

In this context, bread is a traditional food and one of the pillars of our Mediterranean diet. Its sustained consumption over time is due to being a cheap and significant source of energy, providing complex carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Numerous studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of bread consumption, especially when it is part of a healthy diet like the Mediterranean one.

ASEMAC welcomes the Spanish’s cabinet decision to extend the VAT reduction on certain foods until September 30, including common bread, whose previous deadline was June 30. From October 1 to December 31, the VAT on bread will be 2%. This agreement responds to the current situation caused by the economic and social consequences of the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, some of which have been ongoing since 2022 and 2023. These tax reductions have been in effect since January 1, 2023, when foods such as other edible oils, whole milk, flours, or eggs rose more than 30% year-on-year, while cheese increased by 20%, bread by 13.5%; pasta by 12%; and fresh vegetables by 11.5%.

In conclusion, the extension of fiscal measures could help slow the unstoppable decline in bread consumption in recent years. However, this measure alone is not enough. It should be accompanied by a broader definition of common bread, avoiding penalizing certain special breads with good nutritional properties.

The Spanish Association of the Bakery, Pastry, and Confectionery Industry (ASEMAC) is a national professional organization present in all Autonomous Communities, with majority representation in its sector. ASEMAC, as a sectoral professional organization, aims to defend the business interests of the food industry it integrates, both before the Autonomous Communities, Local Entities, and Business Organizations, as well as before the State Administration, the European Union, and International Organizations. ASEMAC represents 80% of companies and nearly 90% of sector sales, with its associated companies generating quality employment for nearly 5,000 people directly.

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