Thursday, March 18, 2010

German bread: one institution that has not crumbled

The global crisis has been eating away at popular confidence in bankers, in managers, estate agents, politicians and even journalists. But not bakers, oh no, not bakers.

Trust in at least one institution has not crumbled: German bread.

These are booming, yeast-rising times for the 300 or so variations of German bread, the Vollkornbrot, the Roggenbrot and the legendary Pumpernickel. Bread sales were up again in Germany, the tenth year in succession; the business is worth 16.7 billion dollars and looks set to do well as long as Germans eat their weight – 87 kilos – in bread rolls every year. The average Frenchman eats his way through a mere 55 kilos of annual flûte.

Part of the national brand

The dark grainy German bread is selling, so to speak, like hot cakes across the world and has become as much part of the national brand as BMW and Claudia Schiffer. At a time when high street shops are pulling down their shutters, German bakeries in Florida, in Canadian and Australian towns are struggling to keep up with orders. One particularly successful chain in Australia is run by a German of Turkish origin. “The concept,” says a spokesman for the company Lüneburger, “was inspired by Germany as the owner Ahmet Yaltirakli was born in Cologne.”

Germans have always had a strong interest in their daily bread. British holidaymakers on the Costa del Sol have noted that hotels there have taken to serving at least three kinds of dark German bread at the breakfast buffet. The difference between a happy and a grumpy German travelling abroad is whether he or she has been able to get hold of a favourite multi-grained roll that morning. Some Brits have even been converted while on holiday and search for rye sourdough bread when they return home: the so-called German Bakery has been set up in Liverpool to deal with the demand.

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Everytime I eat German bread over here, I have to think of you and how much you liked it during our time here in Bochum in August. IMYSM!

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