The company installed the new facility at its Glasgow site after modernising its bread plant there, which created more space, Jon Wilson, AB’s marketing director said.
Additional space at the site was the main reason AB decided to invest in the line at Glasgow, rather than another facility, such as the Orpington plant in Kent, where 170 jobs are currently under threat because of its planned closure, Wilson told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Future on the line
Orpington’s future was on the line because of a “long term decline” in the plant bread market, the company said after making the announcement last month.
“In terms of the Orpington site [and its future] we are in a consultation process at the moment and can’t discuss,” he said.
The declining plant bread market was one of the reasons AB invested in the new line at Glasgow, which can produce 33,000 sandwich thins an hour.
Consumers were turning their backs on plant bread in favour of quicker, healthier and quirkier options, which would drive demand for sandwich thins, said Matt Watkins, AB’s strategic insight manager.
“Plant bread is expected to decline by 7.4% within the next three years,” he said.
‘88M sandwich thins’
“But, within the next three years, we will grow to sell close to 88M sandwich thins, which is more than double the 40.6M sold in 2014.”
Sandwich thins were expected to be the second largest segment within the bread alternative category in the next three years, he added.
Warburton’s also announced a £20M investment at its Billington Road, Burnley, Lanacshire, site last month to increase its production of sandwich thins and wraps.
Chris Longbottom, a director at Kantar Wordpanel, said: “As a nation we eat 5.1bn sandwiches a year – seven times more than our next favourite food, pizza.
“However, people are seeking out lighter alternatives and more variety from all their meals and snacks, which is evidenced by the staggering growth experienced in sandwich alternatives.
“We’ve seen nearly £30M of value growth in sandwich alternatives come from incremental sales alone – a level of growth that’s far outpacing the growth rate of plant bakery overall,” said Longbottom.
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