Sales of Hovis have plummeted in the past year, The Grocer can reveal.

The brand's pre-packed bread dropped 9% to £406m in the year to 19 February, with volumes down 3.3%, according to SymphonyIRI.

The poor sales coincide with a drop in advertising for the brand with spend down 14% to £3.1m.

It has recently launched a £3.5m ad campaign to highlight the 100% British Wheat claim on Hovis's Soft White range, featuring hordes of farmers charging towards a finishing line.

"Our biggest activity this year, on 100% British Wheat, is currently live, so is not yet reflected in the latest data, although it has been received well by both the trade and consumers," insisted head of marketing Caroline Jary.

Marketing in the second half would further bolster Hovis's activity, she predicted. Premier launched a Hearty Oats loaf last year and is also revamping its rolls range in an effort to shake up the category.

Hovis's main rival Warburtons also saw its pre-packed bread sales fall by 4.7% to £543.3m in the period. Kingsmill was the only one of the big three to keep sales relatively stable, with sales down just 0.7%. Of the top 10 selling pre-packed bread brands, Genius was the only brand to record growth, albeit from a low base.

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