Bread’s biggest brands are getting burned as the price war heats up. Sales of wrapped bread have fallen 7.2% on volumes down 0.3%, causing the category to lose a whopping £115.2m [Kantar 52 w/e 19 July 2015].

Of the top 10 brands, seven lost value as the average price per pack fell 6.9%. Kingsmill was hit the hardest, losing nearly a quarter of sales, which fell by £94.1m, taking brand value to £288.9m [IRI 20 June 2015].

  £m y-o-y% kgs (m) y-o-y%
Warburtons 564.5 -3.3 342.7 3.9
Hovis 319.6 -4.8 241.4 5.5
Kingsmill 288.9 -24.6 215.1 -18.5
Own label 168.6 -10.6 167.1 -2.6
Roberts Bakery 48.5 9.4 33.7 7.7
Brace’s 42.0 -6.8 27.3 -4.4
Genius 18.7 31.8 3.7 35.8
Burgen 14.1 -5.1 8.8 -3.8
Allinson 9.7 -40.2 5.8 -41.0
Jacksons 7.5 113.6 4.2 99.2
IRI 52 w/e 20 June 2015

Notably, this sees Kingsmill pushed down the ranks of Britain’s bestselling pre-packed bread from second to third, with Hovis taking its place despite losing £16.2m itself. However, unlike Kingsmill, Hovis did see a 5.5% increase in volume sales.

“Retailers have been fighting hard to establish and signal great value to consumers and are continuously using the most popular brands to do this. Prices within the bread market have become substantially more competitive,” explains Chris Brough, director MS&P at Hovis. “The long-term decline of the bread category remained apparent in 2014, aggravated by higher than average temperatures throughout the year; which has a negative impact on bread sales.”

However, Brough believes innovation is a key pillar to returning the category to growth. “New additions to the range will drive value back into the sliced bread category, which still accounts for half of all bakery sales,” he adds.

Hovis is hoping to woo shoppers with its Good Inside range, which will be supported by a £5m campaign including TV, radio, digital and in-store activity over the next three months as part of a wider £10m in the brand.

Rival Warburtons remains bread’s bestselling brand, although it’s lost 3.3% of its value. But, along with four others it secured volume growth.

“Warburtons remains in a good position to help drive the wrapped bakery market into growth,” says Megan Harrison, Warburtons brand & portfolio director, who adds the brand has seen encouraging growth in the market. Harrison explains Warburtons White bread, which makes up 74% of its wrapped bread sales, has seen an increase of 6.7% in value over the past 12 weeks on unit sales up 12.4%, driven by the Toastie loaf.

Of those in pre-packed bread to gain sales, Genius was the most successful adding £4.5m to brand value, closely followed by Roberts Bakery and Jacksons.

“Roberts champions quality soft and fluffy white bread and it’s working,” says Mike Roberts, director and deputy chairman. “In the central region, Roberts’ share has increased from 9.5% to 10.6% and in the Lancashire and English borders region it has grown from 8.7% to 10.2% proving that nothing beats white bread when it comes to our favourite meals.”