Supermarket data tell brutally honest story about bread market

by Dan Malovany
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As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics, but when it comes to the collapse of the old Hostess Brands, the supermarket scanning data tell a brutally honest story about its impact on the market.

According to I.R.I., a Chicago-based market research firm, the post-Hostess winners among the Top 10 vendors in the bread category included Flowers Foods with sales up 11.8% for the 52-week period ended May 19, 2013. Pepperidge Farm also benefited with sales rising 9.5%. But it was the regionals that really made gains with Lewis Bakeries jumping 17.0%, United States Bakery up 18.5%, Aunt Millie’s Bakeries up 13.4% and Schwebel Baking rising 5.6%. When have bakers ever experienced swift improvement like that?

However, category leader Bimbo Bakeries USA saw sales slip 1% to $2.49 billion while private label remained relative flat, off 0.7% to $2.04 billion. La Brea Bakery saw a slight decline in sales as well.

Overall, bread sales declined about 1.1% to $8.68 billion, yet for many bakeries, the market has been very good to them. I.R.I. reported Hostess sales off 52% to $353.9 million in year-over-year comparisons. That means some $350 million in sales changed hands in retail alone since Hostess shut down, and that’s not counting what the company sold into food service and other channels not monitored by I.R.I.

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