More than half (56%) of US shoppers say they are cutting back on white bread - but not necessarily because wheat or gluten are the enemy, says Packaged Facts.
According to a national survey of 2,000 adults conducted by the market researcher last summer, 56% claimed to be cutting back on white bread, 28% claimed to be cutting back on breads or baked goods because of wheat, and 23% claiming to be avoiding breads or baked goods owing to gluten (see chart below).
“Consumers are cutting back on eating white bread at a higher rate than wheat flour or gluten,” said Packaged Facts, which released the survey data as part of its new report Packaged Breads: U.S. Market Trends.
“The biggest shift in bread consumption over the last 10 years is the increase in whole wheat bread [accounting for 53.8% of usage rates for bread in 2013 vs 45% in in 2004] and the decline of white bread [accounting for 40.5% of usage rates for bread in 2013 vs 51.5% in 2004].”
Consumers want more variety in taste and texture as well as health
Meanwhile, data from the same survey showed that consumers are seeking out whole-grain and multi-grain breads and baked goods at higher rates than natural or organic products, said Packaged Facts.
“About 60% of consumers strongly or somewhat agree that they seek out whole or multi-grain products compared to 40% for natural and 25% for organic.
“[But] consumers aren’t just looking for healthier products but breads and rolls that offer different experiences in terms of taste and texture. They want more variety beyond white and wheat, and multi-grain and seeded breads provide such experiences for many.
“Hispanic and Mediterranean influences are key drivers of sales for tortillas and flatbreads. Artisanal manufacturers are introducing new flavor combinations, using things like olive and olive oil, garlic and jalapeno flavors in breads and rolls.”
Shelf-stable breads will continue to decline in both volume and dollars
Overall, the US packaged bread market is in a bit of a funk, as consumers seek out fresher, in-store bakery items, or simply buy other things, with sales between 2008 and 2013 declining by a CAGR of 0.4% in dollars, 2% in units, and nearly 3% in volume, said the researcher.
According to the report: “Virtually all American consumers eat some form of bread, but they are doing it less frequently and consuming less quantity.
"Health and diet concerns, changing eating patterns and ethnic influences on food are making bread less important to consumers. Sales rebounded a bit in 2010 and 2011 but declined again in 2012.”
Looking ahead, it predicts retails dollar sales the packaged breads will “essentially be flat, growing marginally by a CAGR of 0.4% to reach $12.8bn in 2017.
It added: “Shelf-stable breads should continue to decline in both volume and dollars. More consumption of higher-priced, healthier breads could mitigate overall volume drops and prop up dollar sales.
“Sales of shelf-stable rolls and buns should continue to grow in both dollars and volume, as consumers continue to desire flatter, thinner buns and specialty rolls that offer different flavor experiences.
"Hamburger and hot dog buns will likely continue to decline in volume and remain flat in dollars as consumers migrate to other rolls, buns and even flatbreads."
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