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The Wall Street Journal reports on how discount grocer Aldi Sud is raising temperatures in Germany with a new automated baking machine that, for 15 cents, appears to vend a fresh baked roll.

Except that Germany’s 15,000 traditional bakeries are engaged in a war of words with the chain, saying that the rolls may be warm, but they’re not fresh-baked, and that Aldi is deceiving shoppers.

“Aldi markets the rolls and bread the machines dispense as "fresh out of the oven - direct into the bag,” the Journal writes. “But to thousands of German bakers, Aldi's freshness claim is half-baked. Worse, they charge, it misleads customers who might equate the German discounter's baked goods with the bread they and their employees knead, shape and bake through the wee hours of every morning.

“The German Bakers' Confederation, steward of the country's centuries-old bread-making tradition, is taking Aldi Süd - one of the two companies that make up the Aldi empire - to court on claims of deceptive advertising.”

Aldi Süd tells the Journal in an email that “the automats represent a ‘technological innovation’ in automated baking. A large industrial baker supplies the already shaped dough, which is partially baked outside the machines, the company wrote. Once inside, a ‘lengthy build-up of heat allows the flour to gelatinize…therefore a baking process is taking place,’ Aldi Süd added. "The goods are not merely being ‘browned’.”

In Germany, the Journal notes, bread is more than just a food - “it's a prized cultural institution ... In a year, the average German consumes 192 pounds of the stuff, compared with an average of 121 pounds for the baguette-eating French, according to German government data. German bakers, and even most of the salespeople behind the traditional bakery counter, train for at least three years to join the craft.”
KC's View:
I’m not sure that this is actual baking. But I also wonder to what extent the German public - which seems to be highly committed to buying fresh bread - is being fooled.