How to tap into the £7.8bn UK bread market

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Délifrance's latest Prove It report takes a deep dive into consumer attitudes to bread. Pic: Délifrance
Délifrance's latest Prove It report takes a deep dive into consumer attitudes to bread. Pic: Délifrance

Related tags Bread Trends

Brits’ love of bread shows no sign of slowing down and with the market forecast to rise 15% in value in the next two years, there’s a huge opportunity for bakers, foodservice operators and retailers to take a slice of this growth.

Today’s consumer wants more than just the standard white loaf.

They’re seeking out variants that are better-for-you (opting for benefits like high fiber or protein ), better-for-the-planet (think regeneratively grown flour)​ and are prepared to spend a little extra for speciality loaves (sourdough, breads of the world and regional specialities).

“Bread is a ritualised food, embedded in deeply familiar foods like toast and sandwiches, which are consumed the same way, at the same time, every day. Unlocking that ritual and commitment is key to becoming a fixture on a consumer’s shopping list,” said Lisa Harris and Alexandra Hayes, founders of food consultancy Harris & Hayes.

With expertise in identifying how early shifts in cultural and social behaviours manifest in the F&B sector, the trends experts collaborated with Délifrance to put together its latest Prove It report.

Prove It: Breaking Bread “looks at the trends shaping the category, from the continued growth of sourdough to the opportunities offered by breads from across the globe,” said Délifrance marketing director Stéphanie Brillouet. 

And opportunities there certainly are – especially as the UK’s bread market is expected to grow by 15% to reach a value of $9bn by 2026. But, as Brillouet says, to grab a slice of the action, bakers need to embrace the evolving trends in the bread category.

“As consumers’ passion for bread remains steadfast, it is important to craft unique, quality offerings that resonate with changing preferences.”

Taste, freshness and price

fresh bread nndanko
Pic: GettyImages/nndanko

Tapping 1,000 UK adults who regularly eat bread – and combining this with Délifrance’s internal market estimates and insight; and the external market data and the experience of Harris & Hayes – the report found 41% of consumers say they buy bread for the taste, with Italian, sourdough, brown, wholemeal and rye being the top drivers.

However, freshness was the leading purchasing decider among 44% of consumers, who are often tempted by a fresh loaf from a bakery or bakery counter.

Twenty-five percent of consumers say they are eating more bread at home, citing a squeeze on their household budget​ as the reason for this. Breakfast and lunch are the biggest mealtimes for bread, with toast and sandwiches offering consumers simple, familiar options.

Conversely,  23% admit to eating more bread out of home, with 70% of those who are eating more bread at-home saying they are also eating more bread out-of-home.

“As a convenient and versatile base – which can carry a huge range of flavours and international formats – bread fits into multiple snacking moments throughout the day,” said Harris and Hayes.

Pressure on pockets

The average retail price of an 800g loaf of bread has risen more than 30p in the past two years (ONS data), but the category has fared better than many others, thanks to the value it offers consumers. But quality still remains key ​and 52% of consumers surveyed said the overall quality of products a particular store will offer will determine whether they purchase their bread there or not. This is most likely to be independent bakeries and supermarket instore bakeries (ISBs). 

“It’s an exciting time for the bakery category,” said Harris and Hayes.

“Shoppers are responding well to innovation, with regional specialties, snacking and occasion-led bakery representing a significant growth opportunity. Retailers and operators will benefit from offering considered ranges that cater to a plethora of differing needs and budgets.”

Other key findings

34% of consumers eat bread every day, down from 41% in 2019

The 42% of consumers who say they regularly snack on bread are more likely to:

Deli 1

61% say price is the biggest reason for making their choice, a major shif

Farmer playing with wheat seeds Getty
Pic: GettyImages

t on 2019, when just 34% pointed to price.

For shoppers buying bread to eat at-home, 68% chose quality/freshness, ahead of 51% for price and 46% for convenience.

­63% say sustainability impacts their purchase decisions at least some of the time, with 57% prepared to pay a little extra for this – which bodes well for the entrance of breads made with regeneratively grown wheat.

In fact, interest in regenerative agriculture has increased alongside growing awareness of the harm modern food production processes can do. In a survey conducted for Délifrance report Prove It: The sustainable future of baked goods, 56% of respondents said the first thing the baking industry should do to become more sustainable is use ingredients grown through better agricultural practices.

“Many consumers are already scrutinising how sustainable products are. This should be taken into account when communicating with these consumers – in your outlet, and in your marketing activity,” said Brillouet.

For its part, Délifrance is developing an integrated supply chain that offers more sustainable products​ from wheat cultivated through regenerative agriculture practices.

“We’re proud to be committed to advancing our business in this area,” added Brillouet.

“This holistic approach not only aligns with our values but also resonates with the conscientious choices of today’s consumers. Our dedication goes beyond mere participation; we are committed to creating and nurturing a more sustainable and resilient food ecosystem for generations to come.”

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