A Yorkshire bakery has started exporting lorry-loads of baguettes across the Channel.
Fosters of Barnsley has used a legal loophole to beat local boulangers to a contract supplying the narrow loaves to the whole of the French railway system.
The baguette triumph, which has earned Fosters managing director, John Foster, the French media title of "most hated man in France", is down to the firm's expertise in making long-life loaves.
French local law forbids the use of fat which is key to the long-life process, Foster said yesterday, but competitors from elsewhere in the European Union can sidestep the ban, under European legislation. Building on the "rolling stock" order, the Barnsley bakery is now challenging the brioche market in France, using the same method.
"Their own bakers could give them a good product, but it didn't fit the railway's needs," said Foster. "In Yorkshire we've a tradition of giving customers what they want. They asked for baguettes which don't go stale and we said yes, we can do you them. We're shipping the stuff out by the wagon-load."
Foster said he had been surprised by the "cheek" of the mismatch between French and EU law but recognised a good sales opportunity.