How to bolster bread: Focus on fresh and target diversified retail, says ABA

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers want 'fresh' and there are opportunities in product pairing and c-store sandwich sales, says the CEO of the American Bakers Association
Consumers want 'fresh' and there are opportunities in product pairing and c-store sandwich sales, says the CEO of the American Bakers Association

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Bakers can bolster growth with fresher varieties and listings in innovative retail channels, says the CEO of the American Bakers Association (ABA).

Dollar sales of bread and baked goods over the last four years have remained fairly flat, growing slightly from $43bn in 2010 to $47bn in 2014, according to Nielsen data. But, bread and baked goods still remains the number-one driver for consumer trips to the store.

Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the ABA, said this presented numerous growth opportunities.

He told that in particular there were huge prospects in fresh.

The US fresh bread category in 2014 was up by just over 2% in dollar terms on the previous year, Nielsen data showed.

“Everybody is looking for fresh, so how do we create a fresher product and how do we get it to feel a little fresher?

“…Bringing that kind of taste and innovation is just going to be critically important, you’ve just got to do it in a cost-effective way.”

Another growth opportunity, he said, was in product pairing.

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“Clearly we’re getting into the summer season, so burgers and buns could be leveraged. Or offering meal selections with bread whether bread is the center product, or whatever.”

Beyond the mega-stores

Nielsen data shows supermarkets represent good sales for bread, but have not driven growth like value and c-stores have in recent years.

MacKie said there were opportunities for bakers to look beyond traditional large retailers, particularly in areas that were diversifying fast.

Wegmens, for example, had just rolled out in-store burger restaurants and certain gas station c-stores were now offering freshly made sandwiches that customers ordered while filling their tank.


E-commerce was also an area worth thinking about, he said. “That’s something frankly I’m bringing forward next year. It’s a little tricky because if you go on Amazon, for example, to buy loaves of bread you’re going to pay a pretty penny and you’ve got the freshness issue, but who knows. You have to take a look at how these fit into your outreach.”

However, he warned it was important to carefully research each prospective channel and not forget the

“While it’s good to diversify, I also believe we can’t overlook that you need to take care of your traditional retailer – they are still a huge driver of food sales.”

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