"Machines take the effort out of making bread, and consumers have the confidence of knowing exactly what goes into the product," says Westmill brand manager Toby Gane. Brands are in growth within the sector whereas own label flours are not. Branded flours account for 66% of the total £43.3m market by value, 46.4% by volume [IRI 52 w/e 19 May 2002]. "Consumers want branded products to assure them of high quality," says Gane, "and the strong flour sector is up 19.6% by volume, 24.3% by value, as consumers acquire bread-makers and trade up to a premium product from self-raising and plain flours." Organic flour's market share remains small at 3% total volume and 5.3% value. For mainstream flour, McDougall's remain overall brand leader with a 39.8% market share [AC Nielsen 52 w/e May 2002], while Allinson's strong Just for Bread' range is experiencing 139.9% year-on-year growth by value, 141.6% by volume [Information Resources 52 w/e 19 May 2002] and McDougall's Hovis Super Strong white flour has taken 8.4% of the bread flour market just two years after launch. Marketing flour seems to be a balancing act, weighing the needs of younger consumers against the loyalty of older "scratch bakers". Westmills' Allinson's new pack designs are "cleaner and more modern ­ but retain the heritage link so as not to alienate older customers," explains Gane. Kerry Foods' Homepride brand has also put its faith in heritage with a new campaign built around venerable brand icon Fred the Flourgrader. The key? "Matching innovation with consumer needs and ensuring consumer quality is maximized," says McDougall's marketing manager Marie Davies. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}