PRICE wars and changing shopper habits are presenting challenges to wrapped bread sales according to Warburtons, but the bakery giant says its focus is on how it can make the most of changing consumer trends.
And, despite the difficulties, Warburtons says sandwiches are still a big lunchtime favourite and a popular choice for lunchboxes.
Quoting Nielsen figures that give it a 25.5% share of the UK bakery market, the firm says it intends to grab opportunities linked to out-of-home eating and snacking – by constantly innovating.
The company’s interim head of marketing Sally Stanton said: “Warburtons remains the second-biggest grocery brand in the UK.
“As the wrapped bakery category continues to face challenges similar to those affecting the wider food industry, our focus remains on how Warburtons can continue to build on its responsibility as market leader.
“One part of this is ensuring we have a forward-looking focus, identifying how we can tap into consumer needs and changing consumption trends, like lunchtime eating habits, and responding to these with top quality baked goods that the whole family can enjoy.”
Research from Kantar Worldpanel showed that sandwiches are the most popular lunchtime meal and that cheese or ham account for almost half of fillings, she said.
The research also showed that one in 50 Britons have jam sandwiches for lunch.
When it comes to bread sales, Warburtons says wrapped white bread continues to dominate the market.
“Warburtons White Bread makes up 73% of the brand’s wrapped bread unit sales,” Stanton said.
“This is driven by the growth of Warburtons Toastie Loaf.
“In the last 12 months, over 115m units have been sold, up 11.3% on last year.”
But many consumers are also on the lookout for lighter food products, the bakery firm reckons, and it sees its Sandwich Thins as an ideal lunchbox option for those shoppers.
Its most recent addition to its sandwich alternative range is Thin Bagels. Quoting Nielsen research, Stanton said that since being launched last year Warburtons Thin Bagels have sold 7.6m units.
• Quoting Kantar research, Allied Bakeries says sandwiches are included in 60% of lunchboxes but, quoting Nielsen figures it acknowledges that fierce competition in the bakery category has resulted in the average bread price falling by 7% year on year.
Category director Zoe Taphouse said: “Bread is the most consumed food item in the UK, and the item appearing in the most shopping baskets. At just under £3bn, the sheer size of this category places it at the heart of retailers’ grocery performance.”
But, despite a 1.6% decline in traditional bread sales, sandwich alternatives are having a positive impact and are showing sales growth of 1.4%, she said.
“This insight led to the launch of Kingsmill Sandwich Thins, a tasty, soft, pre-sliced thin roll, available in White, 50/50, Tasty Wholemeal and Seeded varieties, all at 99 calories each.”
Allied stresses that retailers should not overlook packaged bakery products as they account for 60% of total bakery sales.
To maximise bread and bakery sales Allied Bakeries recommends that retailers should make sure they maintain good stock availability throughout the day, particularly in the afternoon and evening for after-school and after-work shoppers, and capitalise on impulse purchase by making bakery favourites visible, even using off-fixture displays for items like crumpets and muffins.
And Taphouse had another piece of advice: “The healthier bakery sector has grown 10.6% in the last five years,” she said.
“Stock more sandwich alternatives, like Kingsmill Thins, which account for 25% of the sandwich thins market.
“Keep white bread as a main feature of your fixture, but it is important to offer healthier alternatives, such as Kingsmill 50/50 or Kingsmill Great White, as well.”