Bread fared well early into the recession, as consumers shifted from eating out to brown-bagging and eating more meals at home. New better-for-you options also helped. Take Arnold, which introduced premium breads baked with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Introductions like these helped supermarket sales grow 7% to $9.5 billion in 2008. But dollar sales have since flattened out, a situation that could be a result of food price deflation since unit sales are up 2%.
Manufacturers are working to build sales with a continued stream of better-for-you options, like Sara Lee’s Soft & Smooth Plus breads made with DHA Omega-3, and Wonder’s SmartWhite, a new bread marketed as having the taste and soft texture of white bread — but with the fiber of 100% whole wheat bread. While overall bread sales were down, several segments — including rolls, buns, croissants, bagels and bialys — posted sales increases.