Tue | Mar 31, 2020

Jamaicans love their Easter bun and cheese - Tradition still very much a part of the culture

Published:Monday | April 2, 2018 | 12:57 AMCarlene Davis
Jamaica is still a bun and cheese eating nation.
Jamaica is still a bun and cheese eating nation.
Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson, chairman and chief executive officer of National Baking Company
Registered nutritionist, Shannon Grant, is cautioning Jamaicans against overeating Easter buns, and is encouraging persons to make their own.
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Jamaica is reportedly experiencing an obesity crisis; however, this has not put a damper on the Easter bun and cheese tradition, as manufacturers and retailers are reporting healthy sales.

Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson, chairman and chief executive officer of National Baking Company, said that Jamaicans stay true to some traditions. In fact, he said that they have even increased sales overseas.

“I think for the third year in a row, we probably sold more buns overseas than we sold locally, so the tradition has grown. In certain areas, for example, in the north of London, the pickup is probably 50 per cent non-Jamaican, so you have quite a bit of crossover into the new markets,” said Hendrickson.

However, he noted, cognisant of the general move towards a healthier society, his company has reduced the sugar content of its products, including the buns.

“We started a long time ago and it’s probably our fault for not informing the public more. We actually have the bran bun on the market with 33 per cent less sugar, and it’s been doing very well. And we are going to continue to offer reduced-sugar products,” Hendrickson told The  Gleaner.

“There are certain levels of sugar you won’t get below. I think if you try to make a sugarless bun it probably won’t do very well, but again, the customers must have choices to make proper decisions.”

MORE HEALTH CONSCIOUS

Managing director for Maxfield Bakery, Tarik Perkins, said that he has heard other bakers complaining about low sales resulting from the increasing sugar awareness, but for his company, that has not been the case.

“We think Easter is still very much a tradition. I was talking with the managing director of a much smaller bakery and he was saying that sales have slowed down because of the sugar thing, but we have not been having that experience. We have been trying a lot of different things and putting a lot of energy in finding new ways to sell, and that has been paying off,” said Perkins.

“People are more health-conscious, and I think most bakeries have been trying to respond to that and have been coming up with low-sugar bun, no-sugar bun, bran bun, all kinds of buns to respond to the changing taste of the consumer. We have the bran bun, which has less sugar and more fibre, and we have seen increasing sales in that product.”

When The Gleaner checked in with several supermarkets, they reported no decline in sales, as consumers continue to stick to the Easter tradition.

“We are still a bun-and-cheese-eating nation. Easter is a time when all diets go on a break and customers shop for their favourite brand. We have, in fact, noticed an uptake in sales,” said customer experience manager for Hi-Lo Food Stores, Donna Taylor Wright.

MAKE YOUR OWN BUN

Registered nutritionist Shannon Grant is cautioning Jamaicans against overeating Easter buns, and is encouraging persons to make their own.

“In the Easter period, persons normally gorge themselves on these buns, not taking into consideration portion control, which usually ends in them having an energy surplus, which means the energy intake from foods is greater than the energy expended through daily exercise and activity,” said Grant.

“Making your own bun by using more wholesome, unrefined and unprocessed ingredients can make all the difference. And make sure to do everything in moderation, and ensure that the energy being taken through the foods you eat is being expended through staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle.”

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com