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Eulogy for a Bread

Posted Dec 27 2010 6:21am

This is a continuation on my last post about chemicals in our foods.

A lot of readers here don’t want ‘em. I don’t want ‘em.

And it’s easy to demonize the companies that make products, think these people are soulless bastards, and hope we all die an early death eating their poisons.

While I don’t doubt that is true for a certain number of psychopaths out there, the vast majority of folks are really just trying to survive in a very competitive market. Fine: make the best damn product in your category. Don’t use the chemicals that cut costs and subtly improve the product in a way that customers expect. Charge a fair price, which, by necessity, is a bit higher than the price of your competitors.

Watch sales plummet, lay off workers, and find yourself out of business.

Here’s an example that still galls me. There is a company that  still sells in the Northeast US called ‘ TheBaker ‘. They made a natural bread unrivaled by their competitors. It was a bit hard because of the ingredients, but it made the most awesome toast and was full of flavor.

One day I went to buy it and found the packaging subtly changed. They had made a low carb version, but it was nowhere to be found. And the ingredients had suddenly included a lot of junk they never had before.

I was livid!

So I wrote them this letter:

From: Low Carb Confidential [mailto:lcc@lowcarbconfidential.com]

Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 4:11 AM

To: askus@the-baker.com

Subject: You’ve Ruined One of The Best Breads Ever

Folks, you can’t imagine the disappointment that I now feel about you discontinuing one of the best breads ever.

I was a fanatical fan of your low carb breads – they were of the finest ingredients, and made the most heavenly toast of any bread I’ve ever had.

Now I find them gone – replaced by loaves with much higher carb content, as well as inferior corn oil – if you didn’t think your customers appreciated the fact you used olive oil, – you’re mistaken – this one did.

I base my buying decision on carbs first – the quality of your ingredients came in a strong second. The fact that it tastes unbelievable came right after.

Since there are a few crappy low carb breads still out there where I can have twice the amount, you lose in that regard.

As you’ve dropped the olive oil, that ruins your ‘quality ingredients’ label for me.

So now I find it hard to envision myself buying your bread again. I went to the store last night, picked it up, read the label and put it back – there’s little value proposition anymore.

I’m guessing that your low carb breads are a niche product and that economic conditions drove you to reformulate your products, making them more appealing to a greater number of consumers by upping the carbs and creating a softer bread. I also imagine that the corn oil is much cheaper.

I hope the strategy works for you overall, but it backfired on this particular consumer. I’m switching brands.

Thanks for the memories. I had the last slice of your 5 net carb Whole Grain Bran. It was great.

If you ever re-introduce the low carb breads, feel free to drop me a line and let me know. I’ll forgive you

Regards,

LCC

http://lowcarbconfidential.com

They were nice enough to write  back

Dear Low Carb Confidential

Thank you for sharing your comments with The Baker® about our Whole Grain Flax Bread and our Whole Grain Bran Bread. As you know, these products have been reformulated to our new Wheat & Flax Bread and Wheat & Bran Bread. The old products contained 12 grams of total carbohydrates per slice (1.5 oz) and the new products contain 15 grams of total carbohydrates per slice (1.5 oz). The old packaging had nutritional information for 1 oz of bread. The old bags were a carryover from when we sold the bread unsliced. So, the net carbs changed from 8 grams per slice in the old formulas to 11 grams of net carbs per slice in the new recipes. We remain committed to baking delicious, all-natural breads without the use of artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives. We will let our R&D Team know that you would like to see fewer carbs and the return of olive oil in the new recipes.

We have made changes to our breads and will be following consumer feedback to these changes. Any new changes that we make will be listed on our website.

Our top priority at The Baker® is to ensure that we always provide you with the highest-quality products possible. Your interest is of utmost importance to us, and we take your comments and questions seriously. Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.

In Good Health,

Tim

The Baker Consumer Service

www.the-baker.com

The answer was lacking because I still have the packaging from the old bread. Here’s the ingredient list for their ’5 Net Carb Whole Grain Bread’:

  • Organic stone-ground whole wheat
  • Water
  • Wheat gluten
  • Organic whole rye
  • Wheat bran
  • Sea salt
  • Oat fiber
  • Olive oil
  • Yeast
  • Organic apple cider vinegar

Their closest equivalent - their ’Wheat & Bran Bread’ – which comes in at 11 net grams per 1.5 ounce slice contains:

  • water
  • whole wheat flour
  • wheat gluten
  • whole rye flour
  • wheat bran
  • cold pressed corn oil
  • yeast
  • cultured wheat flour
  • vinegar
  • sea salt
  • oat fiber

Now to the carb count issue. The old packaging counted a slice as an ounce, so comparing apples to apples, the net carb 1.5 oz. of the old stuff is really 7.5 net grams to 11 net grams for the new.

Truth is: I wrote this email in May of 2009. They are still in business. Their bread is still good – just not as good as it used to be. Compare the ingredient lists.

Just one example: why use organic ingredients if their breads can’t carry the official ‘Organic’ seal? You need to have a certain percentage of your ingredients be organic to be allowed to use that seal, and they probably didn’t make it – so does it make business sense?

They lost me as a customer, but their breads are softer, and still very tasty and good.

But this one crackpot still misses the old bread.

 

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