Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bread by post

Now you can buy almost every other kind of food - and drink - online there seems no reason why you shouldn't buy bread but it feels slightly counter-intuitive. Bread costs so little that it seems a bit mad to spend half its worth in post and packaging charges. But I'm lucky enough to live in a city (Bristol) which has some excellent bakers. If I lived out in the country and didn't have the time or inclination to bake I'd probably regard it as a boon.

Anyway I discovered that one of our local bakers Hobbs House Bakery is now offering a home delivery service from their website. You can buy a selection of their breads as a sample box (for £35) or a 2kg spelt sourdough called The Shepherds Loaf for £21 - the one that was featured on the BBC4 programme In Search of the Perfect Loaf the other day (which at the time of writing you can probably still catch up with on iplayer)

Baker Tom Herbert claims that the service is an 'industry first' but in fact another local baker, Richard Bertinet, pipped him to the post by offering his bread online prior to Christmas. You can buy it on its own for a rather more reasonable £6.50 (for a 1.2kg loaf + £4.95 p & p) or as part of a Breadlovers' Gift Box (£40.25) which includes the wonderful Opinel bread knife I wrote about last year

Obviously these loaves aren't as expensive as they seem on the face of it: they're dense and they keep so you can use them for days but it does seem a fair amount of money to spend nonetheless.

What about you? Do you - would you - buy bread by post? If not where do you buy it or do you make your own?


  1. £21 for a loaf of bread? Ye gods, more money than sense comes to mind.

  2. It seems a lot for something as basic as bread but buying small quantities of artisan food products online always feels expensive postage wise. It would be great if there were more ways to buy selections of these kind products all for one delivery charge. the nearest i can think of off the top of my head is Forman & Field.
    I make nearly all my own bread because its not that hard to get good results. A bread machine is good for basic sandwich bread without additives and making sourdough takes a bit of practice but the bread is amazing.

  3. It is alot but sadly it just reflects the increasing cost of postage. The loaf weighs 1.2kg and royal mail (which we have found to be the cheapest carrier) charges by weight so if we are to make it available to people further afield then we have no choice but to pass on the postage costs. The Royal Mail charges £5.15, boxes to protect the bread in transit are more than a pound a piece, then you have a bag for hygiene, labels (food regs) etc. etc.
    The loaf is sold at a lower cost of £4.50 in our bakery which is still more than many loaves but reflects the time invested in the loaf, the weight and the quality of the product. We have managed to bring this price down from an original price of £8.50 a loaf as we have grown and increased production numbers just because of the economies of scale.
    As we continue to grow, we hope to be available far more widely nationwide which will perhaps make the mail order service obsolete.
    We would endorse goodshowday's comments about making your own bread - we have been teaching people to make good bread for much longer than we have been selling it!
    Jo Bertinet - The Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School & Bakery

  4. Look, there's no question that these breads are good. I've tasted the Bertinet loaf and it's absolutely delicious but if you bought one a week it would certainly mount up and I think many people would have the same reaction as notsupermum to spending this much on bread.

    You're right Jo to point out that your main business is teaching people how to make bread and that's an empowering thing to do. (Those of you who can't get to Bath can always buy Richard's excellent bread book Dough which Jo forbore (is that the right past participle?) to mention.

    The cost of transporting artisanal food is a tricky one as Linda says. There are a couple of umbrella sites through which you can order like Virtual Farmers' Market but I haven't checked how much that brings the cost down.

    The best solution is to try and find a few like-minded people locally who will pitch in with you on an order so you can split the p & p (large orders usually attract lower rates or are delivered free anyway)

  5. Fiona, £21 for a loaf of bread is excessive, for that price, I would expect them to come and bake it in my home.