Hovis Limited brings chia loaf to UK's ailing bread market

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

The 750g chia loaf is rolling out to stores now
The 750g chia loaf is rolling out to stores now

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Bread manufacturer Hovis Limited has teamed with supplier The Chia Co to launch a chia seed loaf in the UK.

Rolling out to stores now, the 750g loaf will be part of the Hovis Seed Sensations range, and carries a recommended retail price of £1.45 ($2.03).

Hovis – the UK’s second largest packaged bread brand after Warburtons [IRI] - said innovation was critical to building the bread category and that 41% of consumers say they are more likely to buy bread with seeds in it [Mintel Bread and Baked Goods Report, October 2015].

Accelerating trend

The partnership with The Chia Co comes at a perfect time to take advantage of this accelerating trend​,” said Hovis market, strategy & planning director Chris Brough, adding the introduction of chia was a “natural extension and perfect fit for the Hovis brand​”.

Hovis said IRI data showed it was the leader in the UK’s ‘bread with bits’ category, with a 38.4% value share - almost nine percentage points ahead of its nearest competitor [w/e 19 December 2015].

The bakery business will be hoping the launch can add value to Hovis branded bread, which has dropped £62m ($86m) in the past 12 months [IRI 52w/e 2 Jan 2016]. The 18% decline has been driven by fierce price competition in UK grocery and the consumer shift away from standard bread. Kingsmill owner ABF this week​ said UK bread prices were their lowest for eight years.

Healthier loaves

Many UK bakers and retailers are increasing their ranges of healthier bread. Retailer Marks & Spencer last month declared “the days of the simple white loaf are numbered” after fortifying its entire pre-packed bread range with extra fiber​.

Although Hovis Ltd claims to be the first ‘major’ bread brand to launch a chia loaf in the UK, there are other breads containing chia seed on the market. These include a sunflower and chia loaf under ABF’s Burgen brand, Biona organic chia and flax seed bread, and quinoa and chia seed wraps produced by free-from brand BFree.

Chia - a $625m opportunity

A study by Nutrition Business Journal estimated chia will be a £449m ($625m) category in Europe by 2020, said John Foss, founder of chia supplier The Chia Co.

Chia products are set to explode on the UK market and we chose Hovis for our first big partnership because we share the same passion for quality and innovation​,” he added. “We, in turn, offer the reassurance of full traceability and the highest quality seeds​.”

Hovis Limited – which was spun off from Premier Foods in 2014 as a joint venture with The Gores Group (which owns 51%) and Premier (49%) – operates nine bakeries, six flour mills and two regional distribution centers across the UK. The business also makes the Mothers Pride and Ormo brands as well as retailer own-label bakery products.

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