As consumers increasingly question their food's provenance, bread is in a strong position but prices are also up, thanks to a hike in the price of flour, and this accounts for some of the growth.
There has been a lot of activity within the plant bread sector. Valued at just over £1bn, white bread continues to account for the biggest slice of the market, rising 8.2% in the past year.
The growth is driven by the success of white loaves with added extras, such as the wholemeal flour in Hovis Best of Both, which offers health benefits, as well as commanding a higher price point.
This is not the case for the standard white slices, however. WeightWatchers, Mothers Pride, Kingsmill and Nimble brands all fell, although the effects of Nimble's summer relaunch and advertising campaign have not yet fully had an impact.
Bread with grains had a good year, with sales outperforming white, albeit from a smaller base. Better-for-you offerings were well placed to take advantage of health trends and the sector grew 27% to £150m. Burgen and Allinson performed particularly well, up 69.1% and 29.8% respectively. But growth was not restricted to the niche brands. In a market where there are only three meaningful players, Warburtons grew 18.5% to £405.3m, but arch rival Hovis narrowed the gap thanks to an impressive increase of more than 20% to £383.5m.
In third place, Kingsmill failed to keep up, dropping 2.2% to £259.1m. Warburtons looks set for an even stronger performance in the coming year, as the company expands further into the south.
Key areas for innovation during the year were crustless and healthy products.
Allied Bakeries brought Omega-3 to the mainstream with Kingsmill Head Start. It also changed the name of Kingsmill Crustless to Crusts Away and invested £5m in a marketing campaign.
Hovis ditched its baked beans, tomatoes and cucumbers packaging, as part of a £20m investment. Manufacturer RHM also brought back the boy on a bike iconic ad for a brief period to celebrate its 120th birthday.n