QUINCY, Mass. -- Stop & Shop here has added a New York City-renowned, branded artisan bread in 10 stores and expects to roll the products out to all its stores that have bakeries.
The branded bread, Ecce Panis, which gained its fame via its own Manhattan retail bakery shops, made its Stop & Shop debut at two stores in the suburbs north of New York City.
The breads, which are delivered fresh every day from Ecce Panis' facility in Carlstadt, N.J., have been put into Stop & Shop units within the company's everyday-delivery range, said Barbara Bacci, marketing director for Ecce Panis.
"We go as far north as the Stop & Shop in Old Saybrook, Conn., [with the everyday deliveries] and we expect to fill much of the balance of the chain with our new frozen line," Bacci said.
The delivered-fresh-everyday breads are displayed self-service on Ecce Panis wooden carts, which are positioned just a few feet from the service bakery counter at Stop & Shop, just as they are at other supermarkets that carry the product.
The frozen, bake-off line will also probably be displayed on such carts in high-volume stores, Bacci said.
In others, where space or traffic is limited, the line could be merchandised along with other artisan breads on a rack in the in-store bakery, she said.
"The volume at most Stop & Shops, though, is such that a cart would probably work. We may customize it to make it a little smaller," she added.
No more than 12 varieties make up the Ecce Panis mix at Stop & Shop and at other New York metro-area supermarkets, which include Food Emporium, a division of A&P, Montvale, N.J.; Kings Super Markets, West Caldwell, N.J.; and Grand Union Co., Wayne, N.J.
"We go in with 11 or 12 and adjust the mix up or down by what's selling. For example, if we put an olive loaf in and it just doesn't move, we'd probably pull it out and put something else in. Or we might put golden raisin brioche in on weekends only because it's a great brunch bread," said Bacci.
"We have that ability [to change the mix] because of the variety we produce," she said, adding that the company makes more than 100 items at its 50,000-square-foot Carlstadt plant.
In addition to supplying its own five retail units in Manhattan and its supermarket customers, Ecce Panis supplies a large number of specialty stores and caterers, Bacci explained.
Just this spring, the company expanded its manufacturing space in order to produce its frozen line, which Bacci said is pre-proofed and baked 85% of the way and then flash frozen.
Twelve varieties are offered frozen.
"The variety in frozen pretty much mirrors the variety we deliver fresh everyday to supermarkets," Bacci said, explaining that the frozen line was launched with supermarkets in mind.
She said varieties that sell well in supermarkets are more mainstream than those that do well in Ecce Panis' own retail stores and other New York City specialty stores.
"We sell specialty breads in metro New York that probably wouldn't sell that well in Vermont, partly because of the retail price. We have some breads that retail for about $8 in the city," Bacci said.
"But $4.99 is about the max retail that will sell in a supermarket," she added.
Shortly after the company began supplying Food Emporium, it created a specially sized loaf of its very popular raisin-pecan bread.
Formerly, that variety was baked in a 24-ounce size and retailed for $5.99. The size was reduced to 16 ounces and now retails for $4.99.
At Food Emporium, the best seller in sheer volume is the baguette, at $1.99. For second place, it would be a toss-up between multigrain and focaccia, both of which are retailed for $3.99.
Ecce Panis' staffers gave its lineup of products at Stop & Shop a send-off with weekend-long demos. One of those demos was at Stop & Shop's newest store, which had its grand opening May 20 in New Rochelle, N.Y., a bedroom community within commuting distance of New York City.
The demo table was set just alongside the Ecce Panis display cart there. At that particular store, no other branded artisan breads are offered.
"But Stop & Shop in some of its other stores has tried artisan breads from local bakeries and they believe artisan bread is the way to go," Bacci said.
"What they like about us is that we won't get maxed out. We can certainly handle the volume and with our frozen line we can supply all their stores."