Supermarket bread sales are up for the first time in four years – but ‘brutal’ price wars have hit spending.

Data from Kantar Worldpanel shows spend on wrapped bread is down 7.8% for the 24 weeks ending 24 May, while volume is up 0.4%.

This is the first time volume sales have been in a positive since 2012, but as the pressure to compete with discounters heightens, year-on-year spend is declining rapidly.

The increase comes just a few months after British Baker launched its WeLoveBread awareness campaign to combat the demonisation of bread in the media.

Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at said: “These startling figures perfectly illustrate the effect of brutal price wars which are taking their toll on the food industry and its suppliers. 

“While falling shopping bills are more than welcomed by the consumer, suppliers are having to accept less money for their produce. With deals in supermarkets for wrapped bread for significantly less than £1, it is not surprising that supermarkets themselves and also suppliers further down the chain are suffering.”

Steve Dresser, retail insight specialist at said it was no surprise that spend was down given the fall in commodity pricing since the start of the year, but points out the impact also on in-store bakeries (ISB). He said: “The bigger question remains around in-store baked bread. With the high level of discount on plant bread – ISB has also benefited from price cuts, but the lower price and longer life of plant bread makes the customer favour these ranges.”

Bread as a staple

Gordon Polson, director of the federation of Bakers, points out that plant bakers are still generating sales elsewhere in sandwich alternatives. He said: “Retailers are committed to offering bread as one of many staple products to consumers as cheap as possible. The fact that volumes are slightly up demonstrates that consumers are aware of the superb value they get when buying wrapped bread.

“Bakers are offering an increased range of wrapped bread, in terms of number of products and sizes of pack, but also very successfully offering a range of alternative sandwich products and an ever extending range of other bakery products, which will not be reflected in these figures.”