The latest figures on plant bread sales suggest that branded bread is continuing to grow at the expense of private-label.

The data, from Kantar Worldpanel (formerly know as TNS Worldpanel), has shown that the total value of branded plant bread increased by 5.9% year-on-year (YOY) for the 52 w/e 29 November 2009. Private-label, on the other hand, fell by 6% in the same period.

The increase in branded sales has mainly been seen in white bread, up 7.5%, with branded brown plant bread up only 0.9%. In terms of volume, the same pattern can be seen, with slightly lower branded growth, and higher private-label volume decline.

The figures echo Hovis’ most recent trading figures. Hovis marketing director Jon Goldstone told British Baker he believes the continuing trend is down to a combination of three factors, one of which is value.

“The price of private-label loaves has gone up slightly over the past year, whereas the brands have slightly come down, so the gap between them has closed,” he said. “Another reason is quality. I think the brands have all invested in quality – we certainly have done so significantly at Hovis. And the third factor is brand investment in communications. When you put those three things together, it could explain why brands are growing at the expense of private-label.”

Joe Street, managing director of Fine Lady Bakeries, which supplies private-label bread and rolls to some of the leading supermarket chains, said he believed the fall in private-label sales was due to “all the promotional activities on branded loaves”. He said that, within Fine Lady, the basic own-label products had not been doing so well, whereas the more premium breads, such as seeded loaves, had held up.

“I think there will always be a market for both branded and private-label,” added Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson, who said it was likely there would continue to be a trend towards the premium end of both sectors.