Why bread in Spain doesn’t taste the same anymore

Have you noticed recently that bread in Spain doesn't have quite the same taste as it used to? Here’s why.

Why bread in Spain doesn’t taste the same anymore
The change marks a "legal precedent" in terms of regulating food quality requirements in Spain. (Photo by AFP)

In Spain, bread is seen as an integral part of most meals, whether that’s as a bocadillo (filled baguette) or a tostada (toast) for breakfast, a basket of bread as an accompaniment to the main meal at lunch or bread eaten with cold cuts and cheese as part of tapas dishes in the evening. 

According to the latest figures available from Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Spaniards consume an average of 34.12 kilos of bread per person per year.

With that in mind, it’s clear that many in Spain will be able to tell if their bread starts to taste differently. 

This new taste is down to the fact that Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture has established a maximum amount of salt content for bread, a rule which came into effect on April 1st 2022.

Spaniards have bread with pretty much every meal of the day. (Photo by RAFA RIVAS / AFP)

The Ministry seeks to offer “healthier products and with the maximum guarantees” for consumers.

Bread in Spain is now less salty and therefore a bit blander in taste, but at least it is healthier. 

The new rule establishes that the maximum content of salt allowed in “common bread”, must be 1.31 grammes per 100 grammes of bread, if analysed by chloride determination. Or, 1.66 grammes of salt per 100 grammes of bread, if analysed by total sodium.

The new law defines “common bread” as being “made with flour or whole grain flour”, meaning that it affects both white and wholemeal breads.

The bread quality standard was approved in April 2019 by Royal Decree 308/2019 and came into force on July 1st of 2021, although the specific measure on salt content was postponed until April 1st 2022, so that manufacturers would have time to adapt their production processes and labelling.

READ ALSO: The products that are more expensive than ever in Spain due to the war in Ukraine

bread in Spain

Bread in Spain is now less salty and therefore a bit blander in taste, but at least it is healthier for you. Photo: Marta I. Seco/ Pixabay

Salt and health

This new law regarding the amount of salt allowed in bread will bring Spain more in line with the parameters of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which recommends a salt intake of less than 5 grammes (approximately 2g sodium) per person per day.

However, according to the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (Aesan), Spaniards consume an average of up to 9.8 grammes of salt per day. High sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and strokes. 

Spanish Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas said that this change marks a “legal precedent” in terms of regulating food quality requirements in Spain and that this measure “encourages” consumption, with a reduced VAT for those products considered “healthier”, such as wholemeal or low-salt bread.

The changing habits of bread consumption in Spain

In the third quarter of 2021, according to the Agri-Food Sector Confidence Climate Barometer, 65 percent of industries detected an increase in the demand for ‘special bread’, particularly those made with sourdough.  

In addition, 75 percent confirmed an increase in the demand for bread made with cereals other than wheat and 90 percent considered that the low-salt standard “has helped to clarify” the characteristics and composition that different types of bread should have.

74.6 percent of consumers admitted that, with the new norm, there had been an “improvement” in the quality of the bread and, according to the survey, sourdough has seen the greatest increase in demand. 

READ ALSO: Where to buy the best bread in Spain (and now the best in the world)

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KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

July sees the start of the summer holidays in Spain and brings with it new crisis handouts, VAT cuts on energy bills, travel chaos and a possible deal on UK driving licences. Join The Local Spain as a member to find out about this and plenty more.

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

€200 crisis payment available in July 

As part of their new draft of measures to help those struggling with the rising cost of living, the Spanish government announced they would give a one-off €200 handout to the most vulnerable individuals.

The payment plan is set to be activated this month and you can find out who is eligible and how to apply for it here.

According to Spain’s Tax Minister María Jesús Montero, approximately 2.7 million people in Spain will be able to benefit from the scheme. Individuals can request the €200 payment, as can families, but only one payment per household is allowed.

VAT on electricity bills cut by half 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez recently announced that the government would apply a further reduction in VAT on electricity bills, which has now been approved by the cabinet. This means that a VAT reduction, from 10 to five percent, will be applied to electricity bills from July onwards.  

Find out how much you could save on your electricity bill with the new VAT discount here

Travel chaos continues

In the lead-up to the summer holidays, there has been travel chaos across Europe, including in Spain, due to flight cancellations, staff shortages and strikes. Unfortunately, the travel misery is only set to continue into July as several Spain-based cabin crew, including those from easyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa have announced strikes.

EasyJet staff are scheduled to go on a nine-day strike on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 15th, 16th, 17th, 29th, 30th and 31st. Meanwhile, the Ryanair strike, which started on June 24th will continue on July 1st and 2nd. Over 54 flights have already been cancelled by the low-cost airline and more than 300 have been delayed.

German carrier Lufthansa and its budget airline brand, Eurowings are also planning to cancel more than 3,000 flights this summer due to both staff shortages and strikes. This is expected to affect flights from the hubs of Frankfurt and Munich to Spain, among others. 

Could there finally be a deal on UK driving licences?

The British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott recently shared his latest update on the driving licence negotiations between the UK and Spain, indicating a possible agreement to have affected drivers back on the road by the end of July 2022.

“The UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” he explained.

This will be a great relief for many British residents in Spain who were unable to exchange their licence for a Spanish one and haven’t been allowed on the roads since May 1st 2022.

Scorching weather returns to Spain in July

After a brief respite from the mid-June heatwaves, the hot weather is set to return in July. According to the weather site Meteored, the first week of July will see storms and unpredictable weather in the north of the country, while temperatures could reach over 40°C in the south of the country around Córdoba and Seville.

The middle of the month from July 11th to 17th is set to see temperatures rise again. It’s likely that much of Extremadura and Andalusia will experience temperatures around 40°C, while it could also reach 38°C in Bilbao and Madrid.

The last two weeks of July will get even hotter with Meteored predicting the hottest temperatures of the whole year. Temperatures are expected to be above normal in all regions apart from along the Cantabrian coast and in the Canary Islands.

Summer sales go into full throttle

July 1st sees the official start of the summer sales throughout much of Spain, although many stores have started even earlier. With rising costs due to inflation, this is the time of year to benefit from some of the biggest discounts.

Amazon has two days scheduled for its sales from July 12th-13th, while H&M and all the retail stores belonging to Spanish clothing giant Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius) are also due to have their sales this month.

After the start of the sales, you’ll see signs for “segundas rebajas” (second sales), then “terceras rebajas” and finally “remate final” (final push), where discounts progressively go from 30 percent to 40, then 50 and finally down to an incredible 70 percent price reduction. 

Imserso holiday scheme for pensioners kicks off 

Imserso is a social scheme offering holidays to the elderly, which aim to offer subsidised trips to pensioners. Applications for the vacation scheme this year are open from June 27th to July 19th and usually run during the low season from October. Find out how to apply here.

Depending on the dates you go and the type of accommodation you stay in, you will usually have to pay between €115 and €405 for the trip.

Vehicles in Spain need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance

New cars sold in Spain and across the EU must have automatic Intelligent Speed Assistance technology from July 6th as part of the General Safety Regulation.

All newly launched models will need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance systems installed as standard. The idea is to limit speeds and warn drivers to slow down if they’re over the legal speed limit.

Festivals in Spain in July

July sees a whole host of festivals and celebrations across the country. Most famous are the San Fermín Running of the Bulls, held in Pamplona from July 6th – 14th and the Fiestas de Santiago Apóstol, held in the Galician city on July 25th.

Other festivities taking place in July include Bilbao’s BBK music festival from the 7th to the 9th and the Moors and Christians parades in Villajoyosa from the 23rd to 24th, commemorating the battle of 1538.

Pride celebrations are also set to return in July. Madrid’s LGBTIQ+ festival will take place from July 1st to 10th throughout many areas of the city but concentrated around Chueca.

New law to improve rights of domestic workers

A new law could be approved this month to improve the rights of domestic workers so that they have the same rights as other workers, such as the right to unemployment benefits and proper wages.

A third of the 536,100 domestics (mostly women) who work in Spain are not signed up to Spain’s social security system, according to the country’s Labour Force Survey. Two out of every three have earnings around the minimum wage bracket.

Early last year the Spanish government sent out letters to Spanish households who employ workers to warn them of their obligations.