Monday, December 14, 2009

Bread - should it be prescribed?

Remember the old expression 'I wouldn't know him from a loaf of bread'? That was in the days when you went down to the corner store and selected either a white loaf or a wholemeal loaf. Nowadays though, you should use that expression with caution. They may well come up with a loaf that closely resembles the person in question - perhaps even shares their DNA!

Supermarkets have whole aisles dedicated to loaves of bread. The choice is made even more bewildering by the potential impact of various ingredients on one's health - - barley, wheat, corn, sunflower seeds, olives, raisins, orange peels, dried apricot, cornflour, salt, sugar, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, wheatgerm, rye, flour and Preservatives numbered from 001 to 999. And to top it all off, you have to decide whether you want no GI, low GI, just GI or high GI. Perhaps they'll soon have bread by prescription!

I'm sure its just an oversight on the part of bread marketers and packagers that the information overload and the anxiety it causes in the bread aisle already overwhelm any health benefit that might derive from loaves of bread suffused with a mix of high-powered vitamins and minerals.

But surely I have a preferred brand. You know what? I'd like to list bread brands, but none come to mind. They're just absent from the part of the cerebrum where they're supposed to be. I'm so jerked around by ingredients, relative freshness (just baked or half-baked), size of slices (believe it or not, some slices are bigger than a toaster slot) and GI's relationship with hyperactivity that I cannot possibly remember what brand consistently meets all my purchase criteria. What are my purchase criteria? Fresh with a bit of grittiness. Why don't they have a sign saying something like that?

I'd love to know what the unprompted brand recall figures are for bread. Anything more than 1% would have to be a major achievement, because the advertising certainly doesn't help. Bread ads are all the same. Pictures of bakers too happy to be working at 4 a.m., people putting stuff into toasty looking ovens, mentions of abbotts making bread in traditional ways and Mums packing lunches (or are they ads for spreads?). No matter how you slice it, bread marketing has no cut-through that I can see. I reckon someone could make much more dough from one decent ad.

I'm seriously happy to be challenged on these views because I have crossed bread marketing off my 'to do' list. Come to think of it, there's a whole bunch of supermarket things that have this problem - frozen peas and carrots, fish fingers, taco sauce, apple juice. You don't feel any stirring in the groin over any brands in these segments - which brings to mind another undifferentiated category, nuts.

Apologies to all those who invest millions in marketing these things. By writing this I may have justified your suspicions. Middle-aged, once-a-month, male supermarket shoppers are not your prime target.

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