'Healthy' gains in breads

Articles
October 13, 2008

'Healthy' gains in breads

With shoppers more inclined to buy and eat more healthfully, bread, with diverse nutritional additives baked in, serves as a high-traffic microcosm of the wellness food trend. Bread makers have made sure that, in this aisle, good-for-you aligns with good taste and good visual appeal. They've risen to the occasion and introduced varieties of prepackaged, UPC-coded breads that have easily become some of category's fastest growth segments.

Fresh bakery bread stirs shoppers' imagination with versatility that yields endless quick meal solutions. Lengthy gondola runs of the category show a vast range of textures, tastes and ingredients that can precisely suit different meats, fish and accompaniments.

 

With shoppers more inclined to buy and eat more healthfully, bread, with diverse nutritional additives baked in, serves as a high-traffic microcosm of the wellness food trend. Bread makers have made sure that, in this aisle, good-for-you aligns with good taste and good visual appeal.  They've risen to the occasion and introduced varieties of prepackaged, UPC-coded breads that have easily become some of category's fastest growth segments.

 

The backdrop for their efforts: dollar sales of total fresh bakery bread has grown steadily from $5.9 billion in the 2004 period to $6.7 billion in the latest 52 weeks ended August 9, 2008 in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores (excluding Walmart), according to Nielsen LabelTrends data.  Smaller gains of 1.8% and 1.5% in 2005 and 2006 expanded into more impressive rises of 3.1% in 2007 and 6.1% in the latest 2008 period.  The larger, more recent growth could be due to recessionary eating (more sandwiches, fewer filets) and a waning of the anti-carbohydrate movement.

 

By comparison, no less than 25 health-related segments of bread posted double-digit sales gains or greater over the past 12 months, Nielsen data showed.

 

The largest of them all, fresh whole grain bread, has grown by double digits each of the past four years—from $881.9 million in the 2004 period to $1.62 billion in the most recent 52 weeks. Successive annual dollar sales gains of 17.6%, 20.6%, 16.2% and 11.2% consistently outpaced their equivalized unit volume (EUV, 16-ounce basis) gains over the same periods, which suggest that price hikes were a contributor.

 

Preservative-free bread is the second most sizable segment in the double-digit growth range.  On the strength of a 15.3% dollar sales climb in the 2007 period and 15.5% growth in the latest 52 weeks, this segment has risen from $381.0 million two years ago to $507.2 million currently, the Nielsen data show.

 

Natural bread is the third-largest segment to grow at such high rates.  Led by a 34.3% dollar sales rise in the 2007 period, and a 23.4% gain in the latest 52 weeks, natural bread has gone from $183.2 million in 2006 to $303.8 million currently.

 

The fourth-largest segment growing at a fast pace is bread bearing the claim, "good source of calcium."  Powered by four heady growth years in a row—63.8% in 2005, 79.9% in 2006, 86.1% in 2007, and 20.0% in 2008—this segment has soared from $25.0 million in 2004 to $164.5 million in the latest 52 weeks. Here too, the dollar gains outpaced EUV, but generally not by much.

 

Sweetener presence (no sugar added/sugar free/less sugar) was the only other high-growth segment in excess of $100M. Its sales grew by 36.2% this past year to $121.1 million.  Organic has rocketed from $35.8 million in 2004 to $95.7 million in dollar sales currently, bringing it near the $100 million threshold, Nielsen data showed.

 

 

 

 

 

Sign up here for your FREE monthly subscription to Facts, Figures & the Future e-newsletter.  You will receive a link to the last issue shortly (or click here to view an archive copy), and automatically on the second Monday of each month thereafter.