Asda has revealed that "active health" lines, such as prebiotic breads, are driving growth of its speciality bread range and outstripping market growth rates.

Figures provided to British Baker by Asda show a 389% growth in sales of its active health products across the year, to £1.4m. Asda’s figures compare to market growth rates - based on AC Nielsen Scantrack data taken over a 52-week period, ending 30 December 2006 - of 109% on active health breads, to £13m. Asda also revealed that sales of seeded breads were up by 29% to £16.3m in 2006. And organic bread sales growth was 60% to £1.3m. Average growth in the organic bread sector was 25.3% over the year to £26m and seeded breads were up by 30.4% to £133m.

Debbie Woodhouse, buyer of Asda’s bought-in bread, predicted that breads with benefits of natural goodness and health would continue to have strong growth. The retailer has launched four new products into this area: Healthy 12 grain, Wholegrain and Oats, Omega 3 and Prebiotic bread.

Meanwhile, Waitrose said that it was looking to introduce more speciality breads. "We don’t want to turn into a chemist," said bakery buyer James Dickson. "If you put in a known entity, such as oats, people know what you are talking about; if you add Omega 3, they are not so comfortable about it."

The Co-operative Group also plans to stock more healthy breads from next year, as it overhauls its bakery section (see BB, 16 March, pg 6). It hopes to introduce an organic bread and a range for coeliacs.

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