In a tumultous year for the bread industry in particular, and brands in general, sales of Warburtons loaves soared to £577m in value - the biggest rise of the 1,000+ products covered in The Grocer's Top Products Survey 2008.

The Bolton-based baker added a whopping £104.3m in extra sales, a 22.1% increase on last year in a category up 16.2% in value. With the price of wheat soaring, the growth has come partly from commodity-based inflation, but with its closest rival, Hovis, recording sales up 1.9% to £389m, its success was also attributed to a number of other factors, including a continuing rollout of the brand across southern England, where its brand share rose 96%.

"We're thrilled with the success of the brand outside its northern heartland," said category director Sarah Miskell. "Our focus this year has been on driving national distribution and it's paid off."

Miskell also attributed growth to a £22m marketing investment in TV, press and poster advertising throughout the year. A further increase in marketing spend was earmarked for 2009, to support the new 600g loaf, with further NPD also promised.

Other products performing strongly included lager brand Carlsberg, which added £48m in sales; Walkers, up £40.5m; cigarette brand Mayfair, up £37m; Cravendale milk, up £34m; and Scottish & Newcastle cider brand Strongbow, which added £31.3m.

And despite a much-publicised slump in sales at its rival Magners, the cider and perry category continued its growth, up 14.6% in value. Sports and energy drinks was another hot category, with sales up 15.1%.

But against a recessionary backdrop, there were a number of high-profile casualties, as supermarkets and discounters promoted own label, and food price inflation had to be balanced against the need for deep discounting owing to the recession.

Sales of B&H King Size Gold fell by £46.7m, while sales of Innocent fell by £27m (see below). Other losers included Nescafé, the leading brand of instant coffee, down £6.5m; Cadbury Flake, down £12m; and Dairylea cheese, which lost £10m.