More on Brian’s Recent Trip to the UK (Part 2)

Continuing my thoughts from yesterday …

While it was only a short trip, I did learn a lot about the modern baking landscape in England.

I did find, in bakery items, an emphasis on low sugar (as they have a unique nutritional table, unlike ours in Canada).

Brian Hinton

Not much low-carb and keto baking to be seen at first glance

However, low-carb and keto products were virtually invisible. They were just nowhere to be seen.

In general, fresh baked items seemed to be smaller than they are in this country. There was evidence of product lines that catered for people with allergies. I often spotted labels that said “free from eggs” and, in general, labels.l often say “free from…”.

We do not do that in Canada.

The high-end fresh-baked patisserie baked items come at a premium price and they do have their own section in the in-store bakery (not self-serve). Your purchase of these goodies goes in a nice box! The high-end items tend to be cakes and tortes. I guessed that there was a 25% to 50% mark-up on patisserie products.

Patisserie

General observations related to the Calgary baked goods landscape

  • I found a high standard of both hygiene and professional finish in all the shops I visited. The shops were immaculately clean.
  • I found the range of fresh baked goods to be a bit limited to the bestsellers of the day (chocolate, caramel, and raspberry).
  • I found a greater selection of seeded breads than the grain breads that we have more commonly in Calgary.

Seeded Whole Grain Breakfast Bread | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

  • I was surprised (taking the currency exchange rate into account) that the prices for fresh baked goods were not that different from retail bakers’ prices in Calgary. I observed no predatory pricing.
  • I looked for an did not find the use of cheese in baked goods. Use of cheese does not seem to be a popular thing, unlike in this country.
  • I found a lot of high-fat pastries.
  • The artistic quality of the work in the in-store bakeries and the high-end goods sold there and elsewhere showed great improvement since my last visit (nine years ago).
  • In a representative supermarket, baked goods tied for second place with produce. Number one is always meat. (How this aligns with the new Canada food guide is an interesting point; meat still seems to rule in the British diet.)
  • I would have liked to see keto products for sale in bakeries and supermarkets. None of the merchants I spoke with seemed to be supporting the keto diet. Keto products were not visible in the health foods stores I visited. Everyone I spoke with seemed to know about the keto diet, but nobody expressed a desire to sell — or even buy — those products.
  • I suspect that at the end of the day, fresh baked products past their expiry date are not being thrown into the green bin (as often happens here in Calgary, in my experience). I believe they are removed and given to a local charity. We do this at the two Lakeview Bakeries, but it is not a common practice with the larger stores in Calgary, to my knowledge. This is a sustainability issue that concerns me.
  • Food miles? These are promoted in some quarters, but it seems a half-hearted approach to me. So much more could be done in a country like England that is so dense and compact in terms of its population. See: https://www.foodmiles.com/

Illustration of a flying supermarket trolley

Final impressions

I had a wonderful trip. A Father’s Day gift to myself and my UK family.

I look forward to going back next year.

Next year I am going to return to my birthplace, the anvcient rural village of Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire.  It’s time to visit some old haunts again.

Where is Gamlingay?

Refreshed and ready for new adventures

I returned refreshed and with a renewed passion for researching dietary choices for the Canadian population and baking keto and low-carb baked goods. And a strong desire to support our culture of small, vibrant suburban bakeries serving local communities.