Half way though the year and Federation of Bakers production figures show decreases of up to 6% year-on-year. This is despite Allied Bakeries’ major re-launch and TV advertising activity from Warburtons and British Bakeries.
Consumers appear to have reduced their purchases of bread at Christmas as normal, but sales have not recovered towards Easter as they traditionally have in past years. Even hot cross bun sales were reported to be down year-on-year by as much as 20%.
In addition, price increases are looming for ingredients such as cereals, milk products, ascorbic acid and oil-based products. This will either reduce margins or force up the price of baked goods.
But bread is still a very cost-effective foodstuff and we must continue to get this message across to the public.
In the confectionery market, we have seen bakeries such as Oakdale and Skeltons go into administration, and profit warnings from Inter Link - all traditionally strong names in the industry. Even the high street bakers have been hit, with indications from Greggs that they are finding the market tough.
As an industry, we offer wide choice, despite the constraints around reducing salt, trans fatty acids and preservatives.
How can we get the message across that baked goods are high-value food items and actually good for you? How do we change misconceptions in the press about our products? How do we get the loaf of bread back on the table?