Big bread brands lose over £120m in sales

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Plummeting retail prices and the consumer shift away from sliced bread have wiped more than £120m off the combined bread sales of the UK’s three biggest brands.

Kingsmill has been the biggest victim, with total bread sales of £314m in the year to 28 March 2015 [IRI], down £75m on the preceding 12 months. Hovis has overtaken Kingsmill to become Britain’s second-biggest selling bread brand despite an £11m drop, while sales of leading brand Warburtons have fallen by £35m. Total UK bread sales are down 8.4% year on year.

With value sales falling faster than volume, the slump has been driven by the sharp decline in retail prices, which has taken 15p off the average price of a large loaf of bread [].

“Prices have become substantially more competitive as bakery is one of the largest categories and features in almost every household’s weekly purchases,” said Hovis director Chris Brough.

Some bakers have also been hit with delistings as retailers consolidate ranges. Seven of Hovis’s biggest-selling SKUs were dropped by Asda late last year, while Kingsmill’s woes have been compounded by Tesco delisting all its branded bread.

But Tesco is continuing to stock Kingsmill non-bread baked products, and the brand has seen sales of such lines grow 7% year on year to £60m, while non-bread Warburtons lines are up 4.5% to £213m. Overall, non-bread bakery has grown 0.7% by value.

“Traditional breakfast SKUs and sandwich alternatives remain popular, with consumers looking for more choice in their baskets,” said Warburtons brand & portfolio director Megan Harrison, claming the main pressures on the wrapped bread category “aren’t dissimilar to those facing the food industry as a whole”.

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