The Federation of Bakers wants a major new report into the UK bread market to kickstart a debate about restoring profitability into the category. Bread Values 2001' from consultants Management Horizons Europe for the Federation of Bakers and the National Association of British and Irish Millers (NABIM), reveals the retail sales value of plant bread has fallen 9% since 1994. And consumption has been on a downward trend since 1996. The price of a value loaf has slumped by almost a third since 1995. Abysmal weather, rock bottom planting volumes, dismal yields and a sharp upward trend in world wheat prices after four years of decline point to a staggering 25%-30% rise in wheat prices next month when the harvest comes in. Federation of Bakers director John White said: "It's simple. Something has got to happen. NABIM director Alex Waugh said: "Walk into a supermarket in Paris, Berlin or New York and you won't find an 800g loaf for 15p. No one is actually making any money out of a 15p loaf and, ironically, research suggests consumers would be perfectly happy to pay at least 20p for an economy version." Millers and bakers cannot absorb wheat price hikes, said White, and current estimates translate a 25% rise in wheat prices to 4p on a loaf. However, the purpose of Bread Values 2001 is to look at how supply chain partners can work together to drive the category in a climate where lifestyle changes, deflationary pressures and rocketing costs are putting it under intolerable pressure. The report makes five key points: - Why does the imaginative merchandising in evidence at the instore bakery stop at the plant bread fixture? - Rethink the point of sale material. Help consumers differentiate between standard, value and premium. - Product innovation is essential for growth but bakers cannot invest in npd without better returns. - Availability. A misguided belief that most people buy bread in the morning leads to empty shelves in the afternoons, lost sales and lost opportunities. Work towards a more pragmatic delivery schedule and assess managers on turnover rather than wastage. - Price. Retailers must recognise that the value loaf has lowered consumer perceptions of the entire category and dragged down profitability across the fixture. White said: "Speak to anyone in the baking or milling industries and they will tell you things are very painful. "The bottom line is that the chain must find ways of driving profitability. Ultimately consumers are the ones who suffer as a result of lack of investment in the production chain." {{NEWS }}