More communication is needed to abolish the perception that “white bread is bad for you”, according to a food analyst.

Pinar Hosafci, food analyst at Euromonitor, told British Baker that bread sales should be turned around by communicating to the consumer through “actual engagement”.

She said: “I believe more should be done on improving both the taste and the nutritional content of packaged bread. And, in turn, this should be communicated to the consumer - not just through distant ads and banners but through actual engagement with the consumer experience. In-store trials or ‘grazing areas’ such as those introduced by Waitrose could be a start.”

She also said that the lost bread market was being made up by consumers buying more artisan loaves - but this would not be enough to turn around overall sales.

She said: “They [consumers] are buying more artisanal/fresh bread, but the rise in artisanal bread consumption is nowhere near as much to offset the overall slump in bread, which remains dominated by packaged variants. In 2015, over three-quarters of bread sales came from packaged bread alone. This is one of the highest ratios seen globally, indicating how an essential food item packaged bread is for British consumers. Healthier variants like gluten-free and sandwich thins are gaining traction, but these are rather niche categories (gluten-free bread still accounts for only 3% of total bread sales), and it remains to be seen whether they will be a fad or a long-term trend.”

UK bread sales have fallen -5% in value terms over 2014 and are forecast to decline by a further -4% by the end of 2015, according to research by Euromonitor.

The wrapped bread market has also been hit by the price war, with Tesco cutting the price of an 800g wholemeal loaf from 90p to 75p, while Asda has reduced the price of its private-label wholemeal loaf from 85p to 79p and introduced the Smart Price loaf at 40p.