Bakers urged to be strategic and diligent

by Dan Malovany
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Bakers can reach consumers by presenting health claims clearly on the packaging.

First, the good news. Three-quarters of global consumers read packaging labels carefully, according to Nielsen. The not-so-good news? Only 56% of U.S. consumers trust food claims on packaging.

As a result, food companies need to demonstrate greater transparency in health and wellness claims to build trust in the market, said Todd Hale, principal of Todd Hale, L.L.C., and former senior vice-president, consumer and shopper insights, with Nielsen. He advised bakers to make it easy for consumers to cut through the clutter and help them understand the benefits of particular ingredients and foods by using out-of-store communication, in-store signage and displays as well as packaging claims.

Speaking at the recent American Bakers Association convention, Mr. Hale suggested that bakers consider rolling out additional offerings of smaller half-loaves that would make it easier for them to display a plethora of health and nutrition claims on the shelf — unlike longer conventional loaves where only the bottom end of the package faces the consumer. Additionally, after years of talking the talk, organic seems to be walking the walk.

According to data presented by Mr. Hale, organic packaged bread experienced a 19% compound annual growth rate over the past four years, but it jumped 14% during the most recent last-year data available. That said, the chart still showed organic packaged bread sales to still be only a small portion of overall sales. That prompted Mr. Hale to recommend bakers be strategic — even diligent — about evaluating health-and-wellness claims to maximize profits.  Just because the growth rate for products fitting the latest trend grabs headlines, companies need to also look at the base — or total sales — to determine how profitable it is for them to enter a specific segment of the market.
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