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Flowers Foods has fighting hope for ex-Hostess ‘powerhouse brand’ Wonder

By Kacey Culliney , 06-Sep-2013

The Wonder brand is popular with Americans, with 74% describing it as a 'legendary' part of the diet
The Wonder brand is popular with Americans, with 74% describing it as a 'legendary' part of the diet

Flowers Foods will ignite growth in new markets and pick up lost volumes with its newly acquired ex-Hostess brand Wonder – a product its president and CEO describes as a ‘powerhouse’ brand.

The US bakery major will reintroduce its newly acquired ex-Hostess brands – Wonder, Home Pride, Merita and Butternut – to retail shelves at the end of September.

Company CEO Allen. L Shiver told attendees at the Barclays Back to School Conference that while each new brand was powerful, Wonder had the most punch.

“Wonder is a powerhouse brand. Prior to the Hostess exit, Wonder was annualizing at just under $400 million at retail. Wonder had the highest household penetration of any white bread brand."

Research shows the strength and prominence of the bread brand in the US, he said, with 74% of Americans saying they feel Wonder bread is a ‘legendary’ part of the US diet. Brand awareness is also high at 96%.

Wonder will be used to gain strength in US markets outside the south where Flowers is already very strong, the president and CEO said.

“What we have not had in our branded line up for new markets is a strong white bread brand. Our research shows that Wonder, Home pride and the other brands we are acquiring will help fill that need. Our research shows that consumers have a high regard for the Wonder brand.”

Gaining back lost volumes…

When Hostess exited the market Flowers picked up a lot of business, but some volumes also went to store brands and competition, Shiver said. However, the firm is confident some business can be regained.

“When Wonder, Home Pride, Merita and Butternut are back on the shelf again, we expect consumers to react very favourably,” he said.

Many white bread consumers are brand loyal, he added, which is promising for the reintroduction of Wonder and the other brands.

A powerful brand portfolio

With the newly acquired ex-Hostess brands, Flowers will have the top six best-selling bread items in the US, Shiver said.

“It’s a powerful brand portfolio and we have the proven operating strategies that can put these brands to work.”

He said the brand launches would be supported by social media and traditional marketing strategies, while the Wonder re-launch will be tied to a NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) event - the number one US spectator sport.