Editorial: 'Bread wars' spark debate

By Dylan Thorne

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Supermarkets are selling bread for $1.
Supermarkets are selling bread for $1.

The merits, or lack thereof, of supermarkets offering budget bread at cut rate prices have sparked a debate between nutritionists and budget advisers.

As reported in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend, Countdown was first to offer the $1 deal for both white and wheatmeal bread, which was matched quickly by New World and Pak'nSave.

The low price makes me question how much profit, if any, the supermarket chains are making on the deal.

The move has been welcomed by some, who say any move to make staple food more affordable is positive.

Others say there is little nutritional value in the bread, especially the white variety, and that if the supermarket giants want to make a real difference they should be cutting the price of fresh produce.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator Diane Bruin says the move will at least mean struggling parents can afford to make sandwiches for their children.

In a practical sense, she says, the debate comes down to making it affordable to have food in their pantry.

This is true. A hungry child is not going to question the health benefits of a food item if there is nothing else in the house to eat.

The question then is, if supermarkets want to make it easier for families then why not carry out similar drastic and cost-cutting exercise on food items that are good for you?

That's the point raised by Tauranga nutritionist Angela Frieswyk, who recommends most clients stay away from bread, especially white bread, as much as possible.

Ms Frieswyk says most people should avoid eating more than a couple of slices of bread a day.

Good quality wholegrain breads were a better option, but should still be eaten in moderation because high wheat intakes can cause gluten intolerance, as well as other health issues.

Cutting the cost of bread to $1 a loaf has won the supermarkets publicity but it also shows they can make staple foods incredibly affordable if they wish to do so.

Hopefully we will see them apply the same approach to items in their produce department.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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