Breads

Bread & Bakery Products

  • The bread and bakery products market, like many others, struggled during 2008, with the banking crisis and the consequent difficulty in obtaining credit adding to pre-existing problems, such as the rising costs of energy and raw materials. These factors meant that the cost of bread continued to rise throughout the year. Its status as a staple dietary item within a mature market has caused problems in the past, with manufacturers having to be continually inventive in order to try to maintain market value. Paradoxically, however, this has at least cushioned the market from the vagaries of consumer behaviour, and consumer expenditure on bread and bakery products grew by 6.2% in 2008, to £3.8bn. The market is segmented into four broad sectors: white bread, brown and wholemeal bread, speciality breads and bakery products. The white bread sector, which had lost sales during the years between 2005 and 2007, recovered during 2008, with consumer expenditure growing by more than 10% on the previous year and bringing sales to their highest level of the review period (2004 to 2008). This could be linked to the current financial situation, with consumers being more likely to switch to own-label and discounted bread, which tends to be focused more on the white than the brown sector. In terms of market share, however, white bread's share remains considerably smaller than it was at the start of the review period. By contrast, the brown and wholemeal sector, which saw something of a revival during the middle part of the decade, saw growth slow down during 2008, although household expenditure remained considerably higher than it was in 2004. The speciality breads sector overtook white bread as the largest market sector in 2006, and has steadily increased its share of the total bread market since then. Year-on-year growth in household expenditure on bakery products was erratic over the review period and modest in 2008, and its share of the total market has contracted since 2005. Overall consumption of bread is almost universal and daily consumption is high, but there are significant differences in the types of bread favoured by men and women. Bakery businesses found 2008 a challenging year. A number of retail craft-bakery chains went into administration and/or were sold, and several larger companies are finding the current financial climate extremely difficult. Although expenditure is forecast to rise in 2009 and beyond, at least some of this will be due to rising prices resulting from increased production costs.

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