ADAPTING TO NEW STANDARDS
Gluten-free also falls into the premium price point, yet it has become a
category standard. “We’re seeing consumers set a higher standard for
gluten-free products, especially when it comes to a staple like bread.
And not just gluten free, but the entire ‘free-from’ category,” says Kevin
Brouillette, SVP of sales and marketing at the gluten-free baking com-
pany, Canyon Bakehouse. “They want healthier bakery options, like
whole grains and no-GMOs, free from major allergens.”
Loveland, Colo.-based Canyon Bakehouse offers everything from
sliced breads and bagels to burger buns. The challenge, Brouillette says,
is producing a product that meets consumers’ demand for healthy attri-
butes, yet still offers the same texture, taste and quality from wheat-
based breads that consumers have come to expect.
“Our focus is finding the right balance between what consumers
want in a product—the health benefits, allergen-free, transparency and
taste—and combining those to create a high-quality product that fits
into their lives,” he adds.
Canyon Bakehouse’s 7-Grain and Mountain White breads remain its
best sellers and annually exceed growth expectations, but Brouillette
says he has seen increased interest in its bagels as consumers can indulge
without feeling guilty about over-processed, unhealthy ingredients.
Grain diversity is also catching speed in the category, with grains
PURPOSEFULLY PAIR THE PRODUCTS
like chia, flax and teff slowly finding their way into specialty breads.
“Thinking about the ingredients that go into it, we’re seeing more
ancient grains like quinoa,” says Matt Lally, associate client director at
Nielsen Fresh, based in New York. “So there is certainly an opportunity
to move into that space.”
Farm to Market Bread Co., based in Kansas City, Mo., offers its
Grains Galore bread variety, which has been a growth leader year over
year, featuring nine grains and five different seeds. The company also
has a new sprouted grain bread currently in development.
Retailers should also thoughtfully pair bread with other products
across the store. According to a recent Nielsen study that was commissioned by IDDBA, partnering healthy items like salmon or value-added
vegetables provides the shopper with a quick and easy meal solution,
and can also enhance the shopper’s perception of bread by offering signage that calls out the nutritional value or low-calorie count.
“We offer [our retail customers] a full merchandising plan with fixtures, coupons, POS materials and a year-long calendar of promotions
for planning purposes,” says Burmeister. “This can be as simple as
introducing an item that is not in their everyday product mix,” he adds,
noting that shoppers respond well to “limited-time only” offers.
Sampling and smaller portion sizes are great ways to introduce consumers to new products, especially those of a higher price point and
quality. “We have seen some retailers implement programs where they
offer either rolls or half loaves of bread next to their deli counters, so
when shoppers go in and get some deli soup or salad bar, they can add
the little bit of bread or rolls to the purchase there,” affirms Lally.
A FOCUS ON FRESH
PERHAPS ONE OF FARM TO MARKET’S BIGGEST DRAWS
IS ITS PRODUCTS’ FRESHNESS. The Kansas City, Mo.-
based bakery makes its breads with “starters,” a natural
combination of water, flour and live yeast, eliminating the
use of preservatives and chemicals. “Our breads are all
natural with no preservatives, so we deliver fresh-baked
bread seven days a week,” says John Friend, VP at Farm
to Market. “For the majority of our stores, we bake at our
bakery and deliver the next morning.”
Though consumers seek fresh, all-natural bread prod-
ucts, daily deliveries pose a challenge to expanding the
company’s reach beyond the Kansas City area. “With focus-
ing on being fresh and not freezing, we can only go so far
from our current location,” says Friend. “If we would want
to replicate our model in another city, we would most likely
need to build another bakery there.”
However, doing so could be worth it. Baking fresh breads
in-house has shown to be a successful strategy for retail-
ers to boost artisan bread sales. And while many grocers
do their baking first thing in the morning, Matt Lally,
associate client director at New York-based Nielsen Fresh,
recommends scheduling production so fresh bread is out
of the oven in the evening when consumers are shopping
for dinner options.
“[Retailers] can change that mentality, so that way
production aligns more closely with when shoppers are
looking for the product, and then communicating it by coming on to the speakers and announcing, ‘Hey, there’s fresh
bread right out of the oven. Don’t forget to pick it up for
your dinner tonight.’ Those are some of the more creative
approaches that retailers are experimenting with,” Lally
says. Plus, the smell of fresh bread alone could be enough
to drive shoppers toward a purchase.