The bread and bakery products market saw its best year of sales growth in four years in 2006, according to the new Key Note 2007 report, of which British Baker has gained an exclusive preview.

The report says that the bread and bakery products market was worth £3.27bn at retail selling pri-ces in 2006, up by 3.1% on 2005. Of that, white bread sales were worth £1,008m in 2006, up 0.7% from £1,001m in 2005. Brown and wholemeal bread sales were worth £456m in 2006, up 21% from £377m in 2005. And ethnic and speciality bread sales were worth £782m, up 0.8% from £776m.

Bakery products’ overall sales were worth £1,021m in 2006, up 0.7% from £1,014m in 2005.

The report also forecasts that the total UK market for bread and bakery products will rise by 20.2% to £3.7bn at retail selling prices by 2011.

The report says there were 1,550 VAT registered businesses manufacturing bread and other baked products in 2006, compared with 1,540 in 2005. The number of firms with turnovers of £5m or more decreased from 95 to 90 over the year, reflecting industry consolidation.

The report says that 99.1% of the population ate bread in 2006, with 79.4% having eaten white bread and 65.1% brown bread. But it says there is evidence that consumers are eating bread less often. Its figures show that 71.5% of adults eat bread on a daily basis, compared with 76.7% in 2004.

The heaviest users of bread are the over-65s; 82% of this age group eats bread on a daily basis. The least heavy users are 25- to 34-year-olds, 65.4% of whom eat bread daily.