Is jam coming to a sticky end?

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Health worries are damaging the sales of sugary spreads, but this doesn’t have to be the end of the preserve

Name: Jam.

Age: The ancient Greeks used honey to preserve quinces, but modern jam probably dates to the 16th century, when cane sugar came to Europe.

Appearance: Edible gloop ranging from orange to purple in colour.

Current status: Dying.

Dyeing? I guess it can be, if you get it on your clothes. No, I mean jam is on the way out. Sales in Britain fell by 2.9% in 2017, down to £106m.

2.9%? Not great news for the jam-makers, but it hard ly spells the death of spreads. Certainly not. Spread sales are up 6% overall. Only jam is bucking the trend.

How come? I love jam! It’s being supplanted.

By what? By peanut butter, sales of which are up 17% year on year.

That’s odd. You would think that higher peanut butter consumption would necessarily drive increased jam sales. Not to mention bread.How little you understand the UK spread sector.

That’s fair. Peanut butter is now seen as a healthy, protein-rich foodstuff, thanks to a range of premium products that contain less sugar, more organic ingredients, and as a consequence are way more expensive than ordinary peanut butter.

And jam? Jam has fallen foul of Public Health England’s drive to reduce children’s sugar consumption by 20% by 2020.

How much of jam is sugar? In traditional recipes, about half.

Half of what? Half a tablespoon? Half of the jam: you normally use a pound of sugar for every pound of fruit.

That does sound a lot. And if you reduced the sugar content by 20% … You would probably end up with something unworthy of the name of jam.

I see. So this really is the beginning of the end for marmalade? Wrong again. Despite the decline in sales of other preserves, marmalade sales are up nearly 3%.

Why would that be? It’s all down to the influence of Paddington 2, apparently.

You mean that people – and by people I mean adults – are purchasing more marmalade because a bear from a kids’ film likes it? Yes, but he really likes it.

Normally, I would suggest we are all doomed at this point, but I find that sort of heartening. Exactly. Preserves may be down, but they’re not out. Don’t bet against them.

Spread betting, you might call it. I don’t think I would, no. And I don’t think you should, either.

Do say: “No peanut butter without jelly, meaning jam in this case!”

Don’t say: “Here, try my sugar-free jam – you’ll need a straw.”

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