The popularity of whole grains and a growing trend to fortify baked goods with functional ingredients has added a new dynamic to an otherwise mature US bread market, says a new report.
Published by market researcher Packaged Facts, the latest report reveals that bread sales in the US have taken an upturn, after a previous downslide.
According to the report, the nutritional value associated with whole grains has provided marketers with "a new opportunity to bounce back from the doldrums of the low-carb craze and reinvigorate their products."
Although the US market for breads is a mature one with 99 percent of people consuming bread, the slow growth in market value of 1.1 percent between 2004 to 2005 is an indication that the recent introductions of healthier breads are creating a healthier marketplace, said Packaged Facts, the publishing division of MarketResearch.com.
US retail sales grew from $13.6bn in 2004 to $13.7bn in 2005. Sales are expected to reach $13.8bn by the end of the year, and $14.1bn by 2010.
"Now that low-carb is out, good carbs are hot and 'functional' breads with added nutritional benefits are becoming hot sellers," said Packaged Facts' Don Montuori.
"Messaging, such as 'No Trans Fat,' 'Organic,' and 'Whole Grain,' as well as the introduction of high-end artisan breads and new blended flavors, are hitting home runs with consumers looking to feed their carb cravings with fare that is more upscale and nutritionally sound than everyday white bread," he added.
According to the report, virtually every top marketer introduced health-conscious bread in 2005, with 33 out of 80 new products containing whole wheat.
Many products were designed to have a similar taste and texture of classic white bread, making them accessible to a wide consumer base, including children, who were targeted with six new nutrition-focused breads, including extra fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium.
In 2005, breads held the largest share of the total market, accounting for 72.1 percent, even though this category saw a slight decline from 72.5 percent in 2004. Rolls, buns and croissants followed with 22.4 percent, and bagels and bialys lagged behind with only 5.5 percent market share.
The report reveals that white bread remains the most popular type of bread in the US, despite a decline in consumption from 53 percent in 2003 to 46.9 percent in 2005, with the product being particularly popular among those aged 18-24 years and in households with children.
Whole wheat was the next most popular type of fresh bread, with consumption increasing to 46.6 percent in 2005 from 43.8 percent in 2003. This bread type appealed notably more to consumers aged 35 years and above and African Americans.
"Overall, US consumers of bran, multi-grain, oat breads and rye/pumpernickel tended to be more health conscious. Such consumers were concerned more about the nutritional value of their food, as well as their calorie intake. In addition, they were highly particular about knowing the ingredients of the food before making purchases," said the report.
"Bread marketers, especially those involved in natural and organic products continue to capitalize on the whole grain trend, which seeks to reverse the unhealthy image refined-grain products- and the categories they belong to-have acquired. Whole grains find favor as a source of those highly desirable heart-healthy properties-fiber and antioxidants-as well as of vitamins and minerals," it added.
"The whole grain trend also ties in with consumer awareness of the need to maintain a healthy weight, as well as with other health concerns." .