April 27, 2006

Baguette eating shall rise again, French bakers say

PARIS (Reuters) - French bakers are battling a slump in
bread consumption that poses a threat to the trademark national
image of people carrying a baguette under their arm.

Recent research shows the French have turned steadily away
from bread over the last 100 years, and now eat far less of the
former staple than most other Europeans.

French daily consumption is 150 grams (5.3 ounces) per
person -- just a quarter of what it was before 1914 -- way
below Germany, where people eat some 230 grams a day. Even the
Danes, Italians and the Dutch eat more, French bakery officials

The bakery industry blames a rise in living standards.

"Richer nations eat richer food," Gerard Brochoire,
director of the national bakery institute, told an industry
seminar on Thursday -- but the ovens are not begin turned off
just yet.

Consumption has stabilized in the past year, notably due to
new standards for "baguettes de tradition" -- loaves using only
high-grade flour and baked without additives.

"The French baguette is a legend and the legend is not
dead," prize-winning baker Chistian Vabret said.