The Half English Breakfast

A recent survey answers the question: Just how English is your English breakfast, and is it becoming less so?

Less than half the ingredients the average Brit consumes in the quintessential English breakfast are produced on UK soil, according to recent research commissioned by Cosford Caravans. Analysis of production data from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) has shown that between 1997 and 2012 UK production of the typical ‘full English’ breakfast ingredients decreased by 12%, from 57% to 45%. That’s not really full now, is it?

Breakfast comparison

The generous combination of bacon, eggs, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, toast and a good old cup of tea has set the honest working men of England up for the day and calmed encroaching hangovers for generations. But, Strangely, despite the push for a greater interest in locally sourced food from legions of celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, this staple meal seems to have been omitted.

As any self-respecting Englishman knows, protein-rich, salty pork is the central ingredient of a satisfying breakfast, and our pork consumption has been consistent since 1997. However, the greatest disparity between a 90s full English and a millennial fry-up is the amount of imported meat. In 1997 around 10,900,000 heads of pork were taken to slaughter in the UK, accounting for 69% of our pork consumption. Today, this figure has dropped by a whopping 20%, with only 7,810,000 slaughtered in the UK in 2012, accounting for 49% of our consumption.

Dutch and Danish swine are now more likely to be found on your breakfast plate than British piggies, with 85% of our 7,290,000 imported heads of pork sourced from these two nations alone.

Tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs have seen a similar slide. 27% of our tomatoes sprung from British soil in 1997; today that figure has shrunk to around 18%. Of the 1,892,000 tonnes of mushrooms the UK goes through every year, only 41% are British, a reduction from 57% in 1997. 13% of our eggs are now imported. This figure was previously only 7%.

Only the UK’s wheat production has risen over the past 15 years, and 87.8% of flour in the UK is milled from home grown wheat, a rise of around 7%. You can rest assured that at least your toast is undeniably British.

Whilst it seems highly unlikely that eggs, milk and bread will be exclusively imported in the future, the continued drop in British-farmed pork may herald a time when all our sausages, bacon and black pudding is sourced from abroad.

With the vast majority of our imports coming from the EU, it appears there’s been bit of a mix up: a greasy fry-up is the true continental breakfast.

To view a more detailed breakdown of the provisional 2012 figures and the full data from previous years, visit Cosford.

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