garlic bread in; pitta bread out
The annual “shopping basket” of consumer goods which are used to track inflation has just been updated by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). Every year the media make a big fuss about what’s “in” and what’s “out” as they try and interpret the basket as a barometer of social change. This year there’s not a great deal of change in the food items with the exception that poor old pitta bread has now been replaced by garlic bread.
Some commentators wrongly assume that the statisticians at the ONS make a subjective judgement on the make-up of the basket themselves and come up with lines like “whatever were they thinking putting garlic bread in the basket, it’s so last century”. In reality, the ONS tracks the sales of all categories of consumer spending and chart which items are declining in sales and which are increasing. Or in their words “the new product represents a greater or increasing proportion of the market compared with the product it replaces”. You only have to go into any British supermarket and you’ll see rows and rows of garlic bread waiting to be heated up in your oven when you get home. The ONS are not tracking the latest trends or foodie fashions but what people actually spend their money on. And, in the world of speciality bread, garlic bread is on the rise and pitta bread is on the wane