Sandwiches are slimming down, as consumers turn away from bread to the likes of pittas, thins and wraps. Sales of bread alternatives are up 12.3% on volumes up 12.8% [Kantar 52 w/e 19 July 2015].

“The consumer is tired of the constant monotony of a regular bread sandwich and is continually looking for the next alternative,” says David Laurence, commercial director at Signature Flatbreads, which supplies major retailers with flatbreads and morning goods.

“The demand for alternatives to traditional sliced bread has been driven by some of the biggest food trends of 2015, from grab and go breakfast wraps to street food dishes such as burritos and Asian-style flatbreads. Health is also a big driver for consumers moving away from sliced bread to lighter options such as wraps and thins.”

Brands are finding this to be a lucrative area. Kingsmill added £3.8m to its portfolio as a result of baked goods sales [IRI 52 w/e 20 June 2015].

“Kingsmill is already making a major contribution to this category with our launch driving a clear step change in category sales, both by bringing new users into the market, with 24% of Kingsmill Sandwich Thins customers new to the segment,” says Greg Bertolotti, category controller at Allied Bakeries.

The brand’s sandwich thins were originally available in white and 50/50 but have since been rolled out in a wholemeal version.

Warburtons was first to move into thins, launching the product in the UK in 2011. Having proved a success, Warburtons extended its portfolio with thin bagels and shapes (vans and cats) – both of which it claims have brought new consumers into the category.

“There is a strong appetite for sandwich alternatives as we’ve seen from our number one selling Sandwich Thins range,” says Darren Littler, Warburtons innovation director. “Our new Thin Bagels offer consumers greater variety in this popular category.”

It’s going up against the New York Bakery Co in that space, with both brands launching bagel thins within days of each other in April. The bagel specialist had a good year, with sales up 2.1% on volumes up 6.4%, driven by penetration gains, but it says there is still plenty of potential in the market.

“Bagels is still a category that is not fully understood by most of the UK population,” says Karen Revel-Chion, head of marketing at New York Bakery Co. “Penetration is at 28% and as the leading brand, with 85% market share, New York Bakery Co has the responsibility to grow this category.”

The brand ventured away from bagels for the first time with its Soft Knot Pretzels, launched earlier this month, which it hopes will encourage a wider consumer base. NPD is a key part of its strategy with new flavours in the pipeline.

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