CHICAGO -- There may be untapped opportunities for retailers to increase sales and category penetration of fresh baked breads and rolls, despite the category's maturity, according to a food industry consultant.
More than 80% of U.S. consumers already purchase bread from in-store supermarket bakeries; however, only 44% purchase fresh breads weekly, according to various data compiled by the West Dundee, Ill.-based Perishables Group, a food industry consulting firm. These weekly purchasers generally eat and cook at home more often, buy several varieties within the in-store bread and roll category and are more willing than other consumers to try new varieties.
French and garlic breads ranked as the two favorite types of fresh baked breads in a custom Internet survey conducted by the Perishables Group. Notably, wheat breads, which ranked third, and whole grains, which ranked sixth, both received more votes for favorite than the conventional fresh-baked white breads.
Most crusty breads, including crusty rolls and artisan breads, are consumed the same day of purchase, typically during dinner. Since the data indicate consumers base purchase decisions on use occasion, freshness, texture, aroma and appearance, fresh-from-the-oven items are most likely to sell well and induce impulse purchases. Weekday afternoon and evening shoppers often purchase less than they planned, citing poor quality or selection. Furthermore, one bad experience can also influence a customer's future decisions to visit a bakery.
By contrast, "impulse purchases increase due to better quality and/or selection, both of which are typically better in the morning," said Doris Hanson, director of deli and bakery channel marketing for Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products Corp. "So, when retailers are baking primarily in the morning and not in the afternoon, they're creating the perception that their products are of the highest quality at the beginning of the day."
Hanson, with Bruce Axtman, president of the Perishables Group, presented the data at last month's FMI Show here.