It says Waitrose & Partners recently reported a growth in bread sales, but this has a knock-on effect for suppliers whose job it is to get the bread from the baker to stores.
According to Waitrose, searches for sourdough on its website increased by 65% in January compared to last year. And sales of the bread have grown more than 30% over the past three years.
Within the category, demand for speciality loaves, such as those made with linseed, mixed grains and seeds, is up, with sales growth of 22% over the past three months.
Waitrose reported online searches for white loaves were up 20% year on year, and 450% for unsliced loaves, with the classic sliced loaf up 14% in customer searches.
“Our customers are rediscovering the beauty of bread, but are looking for great-quality, traditional and speciality loaves in particular,” said Zoe Simons, senior innovation chef, Waitrose.
“Burnt bread is certainly something we’re seeing a trend for, going hand in hand with the increase in popularity for sourdough.
However, Warren Harris, insight/business development manager, Bakers Basco, told BakeryandSnacks, peak trading periods see a surge in the theft of Returnable Transit Packaging (RTP).
“At Bakers Basco, we operate a pool of four million specially designed bread baskets which are used to convey loaves to retailers. The idea is that the baskets get returned to the bakers, who use them again but like RTP products, our baskets and dollies go missing in transit,” he said.
“Diversion and theft of reusable delivery equipment such as pallets, food containers, bottles, drums and crates is a growing problem.”
He added, if packaging which is meant to be reused goes missing, it means extra costs for the food producer which they have to pass on to the retailers and shoppers.
There are also additional costs in terms the environment because people who misuse returnable packaging tend to dump surplus items at the side of the road or in canals, rather than disposing of them responsibly, said Harris.
In response to the problem, the company has started making bread baskets with glitter, which it says reduces their recycling potential and makes the plastic easier to track.
“Having used GPS tracking for some time now to keep tabs on equipment, last year we ramped up the number of trackers in circulation by 300%, making the system even more effective,” said Harris.
Bakers Basco has also introduced a number of features to the custom-branded trackers, including improved battery life and firmware and implementing Bluetooth search technology with a corresponding app to further improve location accuracy.
As well as helping to identify and prevent basket losses, GPS tracking monitors traffic flow, identifying delays to improve supply chain efficiency.
It also has a UK-wide recovery team who respond quickly to any suspect location identified using GPS trackers, ensuring the safe return of misappropriated bread baskets to their rightful owners.