Baking on the rise

The sandwich is a long-established British institution and it remains the UK’s most popular lunch. Even as shopping and dining habits change, the packed lunch and the sandwich remain well-established choices, making the breads and spreads category a key sector for wholesalers. 

Sizing up the sector: Sandwiches are still the most eaten lunch

“Sandwiches are eaten nearly three times more frequently than soup, the next most-eaten lunch, and nearly every household in the UK buys something from the butters and spreads category,” says Tom Hazelden, retail execution manager – convenience at Unilever’s Partners for Growth. 

“Bread and bakery is the fourth most important category for bringing shoppers into convenience stores,” adds Julia Perry, trade and shopper marketing at Allied Bakeries. “Plus, bread shoppers have a higher than average basket spend, which means wholesalers that get the category right for their customers can really boost their sales.”

Meanwhile, butters and margarines are a kitchen essential, with many shoppers needing to stock up quickly for packed lunches, says Hazelden. “The butters and spreads category is worth over £1.2bn in value sales, and Flora accounts for over 14% of that.”

Reacting to trends: Home baking set to rise 22% by 2018

For your independent retail customers, home baking is a huge trend that wholesalers should cash in on, suppliers say. 

“Mintel forecasts the home baking market will grow by 22% in value by 2018, thanks to increased media attention and consumer interest,” says Graham Breed, convenience channel marketing director at Princes.

“The fastest areas of growth in home baking are cupcakes, birthday cakes and brownies, so wholesalers should make sure they capitalise on this by stocking baking spreads,” says Unilever’s Hazelden. “They could also help retail customers to grow sales by prompting impulse baking with signage at the spreads fixture and stocking items such as cake decorations.” 

In the foodservice sector, wholesalers need to respond to emerging trends, too, says Rachel Shoosmith, product marketing manager at Lantmännen Unibake UK. 

“Foodservice customers want high quality products on the go, so in the past year we have noticed an increase in sales of speciality breads such as ciabatta and speciality loaves. This increase stems from the growing trend towards artisan-style products, such as rustic rolls and baguettes – all products that wholesalers should stock.”

The health trend shows no sign of abating any time soon, which affects the ranges wholesalers should offer all their customers. “For example, healthier white breads are growing at more than 23%, so wholesalers can help their customers grow sales by stocking products such as Kingsmill 50/50,” says Allied Bakeries’ Perry.

The right mix of products: Shoppers’ tastes vary by region

“Our best advice to wholesalers when it comes to getting the right spreads range is to stick to a tight selection of the most popular brands and formats and present them in a logical way to customers,” suggests Unilever’s Hazelden. 

“We also recommend that wholesalers experiment with some higher-value products, such as cholesterol-lowering spreads and spreadable butters, as these are usually well supported by marketing activity and can boost sales.”

Offering advice to retail and foodservice customers on local trends can also boost customer loyalty, suppliers suggest. “For example, shoppers’ tastes in butter can vary between the north and the south of England quite significantly, which should be taken into account in your range,” says Unilever’s Hazelden.

And when it comes to bread, freshness is key, with 71% of shoppers checking the sell-by dates of bakery products in-store. This can make frozen, part-baked and ready-to-bake bread products the easiest choice for both foodservice customers and c-stores with a food-to-go offering, says Lantmännen’s Shoosmith.

Boost sales with promotions: Partner pastries with hot drinks

To help your breads and spreads products fly out the depot, Shoosmith suggests several ways to make a real difference.

“Wholesalers should drive sales by running introductory promotions on bakery products, as well as offering multi-buys and making use of effective signage and point-of-sale materials,” she suggests.

Promoting product pairings is also a great way of showing customers how the products work well together, which in turn can raise the value of each transaction. “For example, partnering pastries and a hot drink together is a quick way of increasing impulse sales,” she adds.

Think foodservice: Frozen to fresh for caterers

“To make caterers’ jobs easier, wholesalers should stay ahead of the curve and provide relevant, convenient products to their foodservice customers,” Shoosmith says. 

“For example, providing easy-to-serve breads that can be baked straight from frozen, such as our Panefresco Top Cut Ciabatta Roll and Bakehouse-branded Rusticata range, is very appealing to caterers, since they can reduce wastage by baking little and often, increasing profit,” she says.

Wholesalers should also provide foodservice customers with interesting serving suggestions, to help inspire them and to add a point of difference to their menus, she adds.

Meanwhile, with health still a prominent concern for consumers, many are looking for low-cholesterol spread options while eating out, says Adrian Coulter, Kerry Foodservice’s in-house development chef. 

“To help meet this trend in the foodservice sector, Kerrymaid recently introduced mini-portions of its spread, available in 10g blister packs, specifically for front-of-house operations,” he adds. 


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