PLATTEVILLE, Wis. -- Dick's Supermarkets is rising to the challenge of changing consumer diets by launching its own low-carb bread alternative, which will begin production within the next few weeks, according to Bob Leuth, bakery director.
"It's a base that we are getting from another supplier, but we're actually going to be making the product in our bakery plant for distribution in our stores and the other stores that we serve," he told SN.
The new item will be merchandised in the bakery department as a packaged bread, and in-store sampling will support the launch.
"We're also hoping to use the same product in making a lower-carb bun as well, and that will be coming once we get the bread established," Leuth said.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Fresh Brands, Sheboygan, Wis., Dick's supplies its eight retail units, as well as other independent retailers, with its private-label bakery and deli lines. Leuth said Dick's has also been producing "healthier" whole-grain breads for some time now.
"One is a rustic bread; one is a museli bread. And we also do a bread that has no sugar and salt added. But, those don't really address the lower carb demand that we're seeing," he said.
Initiatives like this are becoming more commonplace within the grocery channel as the industry looks to keep pace with the low-carb craze currently overtaking the nation. Some in the industry believe consumer education may be all that's needed to keep the bread category from crumbling.
"People are cutting out these whole grains that are actually associated with long-term weight control, and missing out on the nutrition that's important. But, it's typical to throw the baby out with the bath water," said Carolyn O'Neil, registered dietician for the National Bread Leadership Council, Atlanta.
Indeed, consumers seem a bit misguided when it comes to bread. According to a new survey released by the NBLC, only 17% of the 1,000 consumers age 18 and over polled correctly identified breads and grains as being the base of the Food Guide Pyramid. Conducted by the Schapiro Research Group of Atlanta, the survey was released at the first-ever National Bread Summit late last month, which brought together experts on baking, nutrition and education for a day of discussion at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I.
Twenty percent of respondents indicated that they don't perceive bread to be healthy, and only 36% listed bread as a "good" or "healthy" carbohydrate.
O'Neil said the bread summit was not meant as a crisis management meeting, but merely as a way to shed light on trends for future generations of bread professionals.
"In any industry, whether you are selling timber or tofu, it's your responsibility to really see what's happening in consumers' habits and attitudes in the retail world and beyond," she said.