Supermarket Tesco has revealed it will have completed a roll-out of standard-sized bread baskets to all its plant bread fixtures by the end of its financial year.

The new “one-size-fits-all” 10-loaf “Omega” baskets are now being used to display bread in 400 of its supermarkets, in the Midlands and the south. And Tesco has just started introducing the baskets in the north and Scotland, at a rate of 30 stores a week. They will be in 680 of its supermarkets by December.

By March 2007, Tesco plans to have them in all of its stores across the UK, including Tesco Express convenience stores. Tesco senior buying manager, plant bread and morning goods Jeremy Summers told British Baker the baskets save time in replenishing the bread aisle as baskets can be wheeled straight onto the shop floor and do not need to be unloaded before display. He added: “In terms of availability, the stores with the standard Omega bread tray are performing better than those without. It helps bread to remain in stock throughout the day.”

Tesco began trialling standard baskets in October 2004, in agreement with its main plant bread suppliers and the Federation of Bakers. Suppliers previously used a variety of basket sizes, holding eight to 15 loaves.

Rival supermarkets are less keen. Asda buying manager for bakery Amanda Peberdy said the baskets may reduce efficiency: “Eighteen months ago, we moved to displaying bread on shelves, rather than in baskets. If you reduce the case size, it takes longer to get the same amount of product on the shelf.”

Sainsbury’s plant bread buyer Sophie Luckman said the bread baskets used by Tesco increase on-shelf availability at the start of the day, but reduce fixture capacity compared to its current shelf fixtures, resulting in the need for frequent in-day replenishment.