Trouble is baking at the big bread companies. Hit by a decline in demand, rising costs and a currency devaluation the big bread makers are feeling the pinch. We moved away from bread a few years ago to focus on the sweeter side of things with our cakes and desserts, as the competition was strong and margins extremely low. (We can still do a mean sourdough though!)
Bread has been the backbone of our diet for hundreds of years. Nothing can quite beat a slice of toasted white bread with melted butter, jam and a cup of tea for breakfast followed by a ploughmans lunch with a thick wedge of cheese between a fresh baguette and pickle. But times are changing. A hearty bread filled diet may have been the order of the day when we were doing far more physical work but since most of us are sat behind a desk on most days, eating slice after slice soon leads to piling on the pounds – and that’s the problem. Tastes are changing. The more health conscious we become and informed about nutrition the more bread has turned into the enemy. Viewed as being empty calories. It’s hard to defend a slice of white bread made with processed flour and laden with preservatives and additives its more like having a slice of cake by the time the butter and jam has gone on. Good quality wholemeal seeded and multigrain bread does offer a far more healthier option but is still labelled as the enemy.
According to Mintel , bread consumption is down 12% over the last 5 years which amounts to 23,000 tonnes. Costs are up 4% with wheat up a whopping 24% over the last 2 years. 42% of us now have bread daily down from 52% a few years ago. Amongst 16-24 year olds that figure is 25%. Hovis made a loss of £30m in 2016 and £19m in 2015. Their adverts from the 1980’s were iconic and propelled them to being the leading and most love bread manufacturer in the UK. But tastes change and a business cant survive on nostalgia or on memories of how things used to be. Supermarkets are also cutting lines as the demand is simply not there. Hovis drop in profits were partly due to some of its lines being dropped by Asda.
Diversifying in to Wraps , Bagels and other bread styles may help the situation and people may move back to bread as the trend could be faddish. Bread could be sidelined to an occasional treat, much like a slice of cake or good quality dessert is , but who’s still standing after this current slump remains to be seen.