CINCINNATI — Kroger here has teamed with the Grain Foods Foundation to encourage shoppers to buy bread and brown-bag their lunches.
Through mid-November, the packaged bread and paper goods aisles in all 2,500 Kroger stores will feature floor decals imparting the message “Bread. It's essential for saving dough. Join the brown bag club.” The 2-by-2-foot decals also invite shoppers to visit www.grainpower.org and sign up for the chance to win a year's worth of free groceries from GFF.
Kroger is broadcasting similar messages through its in-store radio network.
At a time when unit movement of packaged bread has slowed, GFF is hopeful the promotion will spur sales.
“Every time our messages have appeared in Kroger stores over the last four years, they've increased sales of bread and rolls over competing markets,” Judi Adams, president of GFF, Ridgway, Colo., told SN.
Although Kroger declined to comment, Dunnhumby figures show that during the chain's participation in GFF's Ten Years of Saving Babies Campaign last January, dollar and volume sales of packaged bread at Kroger rose 11.7% and 2.1%, respectively. During the same time period, dollar sales in all remaining markets (excluding Wal-Mart) grew 0.8%, while unit volume fell 6.5%, according to the Nielsen Co.
Though consumers have become more reliant on homemade meal solutions since then, higher prices have led to a drop in unit sales of the staple.
“Bread volume is struggling a bit right now,” Sheila McCusker, editor of Information Resources Inc.'s Times & Trends report, told SN. “Consumers have backed away a bit, and I'm sure it's because of price.”
While volume was down 2% vs. the previous year during the first quarter of 2008, unit sales fell 5% in the second quarter when compared to the prior year, she said.
But the bread picture is not entirely bleak.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation's recently released Marketbasket Survey, the retail price of white bread dropped 11 cents in the third quarter, to a $1.79 for a 20-ounce loaf, when compared to the previous quarter.
No matter the staple's price, it's still a bargain when compared to dining-out options.
“With the economic situation being the way it is, we thought this [campaign] would really resonate with consumers,” said Adams. “It's a way to help people save money, and probably improve nutrition and lessen their calorie intake, depending on the choices made.”
Last month, GFF added a cost-savings and calorie calculator to its website to help visitors realize how much they could save by packing a lunch at home.
The tool invites consumers to enter how many days per week they'll brown-bag it. Then they select from a list of homemade lunches that they'd like to compare takeout options to.
A person who replaces a take-out hamburger, french fries and a pickle five days a week with a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, pretzels and a peach prepared at home will save $1,903.20 a year and more than 146,000 calories, according to the calculator.
Although Kroger is GFF's sole retail partner at this time, GFF is promoting both its calculator and grocery giveaway in a variety of venues: through online advertisements at myrecipes.com, allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com and about.com; print ads in Cooking Light magazine; and a media relations campaign with celebrity supermom Kate Gosselin of TLC's “Jon & Kate Plus Eight.”
As part of its grocery giveaway, GFF will award one gift card worth $5,000 redeemable at the grocery store of the winner's choice. So far 26,000 people have entered the contest.
Web traffic to grainpower.org has increased fivefold since GFF launched the calculator and grocery giveaway contest last month. About 4% of the website's visitors download the bread coupons available there.