Sales of brown bread are on the up, thanks to the recent influx of seeded bread products, according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel.

Total volume sales of brown/wholemeal (plant and in-store) increased by 6.1% in the 52 weeks to 20 March 2011, while overall volume sales of white bread dipped by 1.4%. Value spend on white bread was also down (-4.3%), while it increased in the brown and wholemeal category by 3.1%. The growth in both volume and value sales of brown and wholemeal was seen purely in the plant bread category, with sales of ISB bread falling in both categories.

Mahinthan Kathirgamanathan, an analyst at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "Compared to last year there have been nearly 14.4 million packs switched from white bread to brown/seeded. The growth within brown bread is largely due to new seeded bread products, which have grown by 6% year-on-year."

Warburtons marketing director Richard Hayes said its seeded and wholemeal sales were now growing faster than its white bread range, at 15.2% and 6.6% respectively over the 52 weeks to 19 February 2011. "This is evidence of continued consumer interest in these sectors and reflects the continuous work by ourselves and the wider baking industry to promote their merits."

He also said it was important to recognise that other, more significant, factors were responsible for the decline in white bread sales at a national level. "The primary factors are the changing consumer use of bakery: for example, more people eating breakfast out of home; the growing interest in alternative formats for bakery other than bread, such as muffins and crumpets; and the impact that the recession has had on reducing consumer purchasing and consumption at a macro level, which is impacting mainstream staples such as white bread."

Allied Bakeries category director Guy Shepherd added: "Despite the recent decline in sales, white bread continues to form a staple part of the British diet."

Hovis said white bread had also recorded a decline in volume sales in March 2008, but picked up within six months to record 5% growth following marketing activity around its Soft White loaf.