The bread market is in a strong state as a health-conscious but indulgent public trades up from economy loaves to something more special, says Tracy West
A whopping 99% of the UK population eats bread. But, according to TGI/BMRB data, we're eating it less frequently. In 2002, 80% of adults ate bread once or more a day, but by 2005 this figure had dropped to 73%. Despite this, in the year to February 26, 2006 the total wrapped bread market was worth £1.3bn, up 6.3% on the previous year [TNS].
Much of that growth came from companies passing on increased costs - such as hikes in energy and in flour.
But Sarah Miskell, category marketing controller at Warburtons, says half the growth came from shoppers trading up. &aquot;Shoppers who usually buy own label are going into brands. They like consistent quality. Those who used to buy economy bread are moving into premium lines. Products such as farmhouse loaves with a domed top, dusted with flour, are selling well.&aquot;
Stephen Davis, Hovis Granary's marketing manager, says: &aquot;The demand for premium and healthy bread, including seeded and wholegrain, continues to grow. We have relaunched and broadened our Hovis Granary range to provide health-conscious consumers with more quality, choice and variety. The success of Hovis Granary shows that consumers are prepared to pay a premium for these products.&aquot;
Health, as Davis says, is another key driver. Publicity about folic acid added to bread has been doing the rounds while the FSA decides whether to make fortification mandatory, and salt levels are pushed down.
Miskell agrees health is important, but is keen to add that &aquot;bread is inherently healthy - a good thing to eat&aquot;. &aquot;We found that added-value loaves, such as white bread with the goodness of wholemeal, are performing very well. So are grain and seeded loaves, as more people recognise the importance of fibre and wholegrain in their diets.&aquot;
Jonathan Burr, director of customer
marketing at Allied Bakeries, also says that bread is increasingly seen by consumers as a vital part of a healthy diet. &aquot;Although recent surveys show that the British move to a healthier diet is a slow one, the growing trend is away from quick-fix diets and vitamin pills towards more wholesome foods,&aquot; he says.
&aquot;Consumers are also taking a greater
interest in the quality and origin of food than ever before. However, the biggest
challenges to healthier eating - taste and time - remain unchanged. For suppliers such as Allied, the provision of tasty, wholesome foods that are convenient is crucial to help improve the nation's diet.&aquot;
Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, says that salt levels in bread have been reduced by some 25% over the past 25 years. Within the next 12 months, he says, bread will contain a maximum of 0.6g of sodium per 100g, dropping to 0.54g within two years.
However, Polson argues that salt reduction in bread should not go too far. &aquot;It is widely recognised that any change that may diminish the flavour of bread would be
counterproductive to the objective of improving the nation's diets. Salt plays a critical technical role in dough formation and, as levels decline, this can become a significant risk factor.&aquot;
To make bread even more convenient for consumers, manufacturers have been concentrating on packaging and, in particular, smaller pack sizes to meet the nation's changing demographic to more single households. Miskell says it is important to note that smaller households want smaller loaves, but they want the same size slices - just fewer of them. And in rolls, Warburtons is doing smaller pack sizes - from packs of one to packs of four - to reflect these needs.
According to TNS, the rolls and baps
market is worth more than £490m and showing growth of 2.6% in value and 8% in volume [52 w/e February 26, 2006]. The key sales driver is consumers buying more frequently and spending more on average per trip.
Branded bread rolls and baps are driving growth, with sales of white up 6.4% and brown up 11.6%. Own label brown is the biggest contributor, up 24.4%. Warburtons is the leading brand and the bestselling SKU is its 12 white sliced sandwich rolls.
NPD is vital, but RHM is keen to cash in on the heritage of its Hovis brand. It is celebrating '120 years of goodness' this month with limited-edition packaging for Hovis Original Wheatgerm 400g and 800g loaves.
Over at Allied, Jonathan Burr says: &aquot;Bread, rolls and snacks are constantly evolving categories, particularly now that retailers can no longer rely on just a few products to meet their customers' needs,&aquot; he says. &aquot;Allied Bakeries and its competitors invest millions of pounds each year on NPD in response to consumer demand.&aquot;
As a result, in the bakery pipeline is a new chilled range from Kingsmill comprising salsa ciabatta, smoky BBQ ciabatta, cheese-topped dough balls and roasted garlic flatbread, which the company says is tapping into the growing demand for premium, Continental-style products in the UK.
And, after a successful trial in Sainsbury,
Allinson Oatmeal and White will be made more widely available this summer.
Allied Bakeries has also enlisted the help of celebrity chefs. James Martin has been endorsing the Allinson brand, while Antony
Worrall Thompson championed the new Burgen wholegrain & cranberry loaf from Allied via a low-GI roadshow. Worrall Thompson was diagnosed with a pre-diabetic condition, but claims to have turned his health around by losing more than two stone on the GI diet, of which low-GI bread can be a part. What's more, Allied Bakeries claims that its new Burgen brand is bringing in new consumers to the healthy breads sector and has achieved sales of £500,000 in just 12 weeks.
The retailer's view
The supplier's view
The Expert's View
Manufacturer: Allied Bakeries
All in One Riddlers
Budget: part of a £2m spend
Budget: part of a £1m campaign
looking back what we said in 2001
Trends & Developments
Category manager for bakery, Musgrave Budgens Londis