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Bread to withstand economic gloom

09-Jan-2009
Last updated on 13-Jan-2009 at 13:36 GMT

Bread sales are expected to be resilient against the economic downturn as consumers still see it as a good value food, according to the director of a bakers’ association.

Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers (FoB), which represents the UK bread industry, told BakeryandSnacks.com that he believes “bread sales will maintain”, although there may be some switching between brands.

Polson said: “Fundamentally, even in times like this, bread is still good value and very versatile.”

However he added: “The branded products may see a little switching within the product category.”

A Mintel market report summary, called “The Impact of Rising Food Prices - UK - November 2008”, said its consumer research showed that in order to save money, more than four in ten consumers buy more own-label value lines, or buy own-label products more often, or have switched to cheaper brands.

Retailers have also increased their support for own-label products with Sainsbury’s ‘Switch and Save’ campaign and tesco.com offering ‘cheaper alternatives’ to encourage consumers to trade down.

Private label products are typically cheaper than branded products and for wrapped bread private label accounts for an estimated 30 per cent of the UK market.

However, the companies behind major bread brands also serve the private label market. For example, Allied Bakeries, which is one of the largest bakers in the UK, includes Kingsmill, Burgen, Allinson and Sunblest among its brands, plus private label bread.

The Mintel brief also showed that bread, along with butter and fats, eggs, meat and milk had seen the largest food price rises this year.

And although by September 2008 the falling price of wheat and oil had caused food inflation to slow, long-term problems of falling supply and rising demand mean food prices are unlikely to ever return to their previous lows, according to the analyst

Richard Perks of Mintel recently highlighted concerns that the ‘credit crunch’ was forcing some consumers to trade down from supposed ‘luxury’ products like organic bread to lower priced bakery items.

He also said that value for money was the key to success in tougher times.

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