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Stew Leonard’s Cites Specialty Bread Gains

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Stew Leonard’s is finding success in the bread category with specialty products as consumers eschew more basic varieties, said Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO.

During a panel presentation at the American Bakers Association Convention here, he said there’s no mistaking the message from customers of the four-unit retailer based in Connecticut.

“Consumers are looking for something a little more unique and different,” he said. “We have pan breads, but we don’t see a lot of growth there.”

What is performing for the retailer, however, is specialty breads that benefit from  “show and sell, making it in front of the customer, smoke and aroma, and store employees who understand bread. There’s nothing like nice, crusty, hot pieces of bread.”

The retailer makes all its artisan breads from scratch, he said.

Other baked goods categories performing well for Stew Leonard’s include muffins, half-pies and doughnuts, he added.

The panel also included Shawn Baldwin, senior vice president, Fresh Freezer Cooler, Sam's Club, and Todd Hale, senior vice president, Consumer Shopper Insights, Nielsen. It was moderated by David Orgel, editor-in-chief, Supermarket News.

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