Dorothy Lane Market artisan bread

KANSAS CITY — In-store bakeries have continued sales growth, but sales of fresh-baked bread sold in those bakeries has not kept pace. According to the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) “What’s in Store 2017,” bakery bread sales have not only remained flat, they have declined in some instances.

Part of that, said Scott Fox, vice-president of bakery operations for Dorothy Lane Market, can be attributed to competition from local artisan bread shops and fast-casual bakery cafes. Those shops bake fresh bread daily, building trust within their customer base. That trust, Mr. Fox said, is vital in the increase of in-store bakery sales.

“Our products have to have integrity everyday if we want our customers to trust us,” he said.

Mr. Fox noted at last year’s IDDBA the recent flat sales of bread, a change in direction of 18 years of substantial growth. To grow sales of fresh-baked artisan bread — which are usually pricier and have a shorter shelf life than other varieties — Mr. Fox suggested downsizing. Instead of selling the full loaf of bread, offer half-loaves and smaller sizes.

“In our mind, we would rather sell a customer a half loaf and for them to be satisfied and come back more often for another half loaf,” Mr. Fox said. “Bakery bread buyers are mostly smaller households with higher-than-average income. We think they appreciate the quality and value.”

Mr. Fox noted the average age range of a typical in-store bakery (I.S.B.) bread shopper is 65-plus. Stores must continue to explore ways to connect with younger shoppers to encourage them to frequent their department.

He also stressed the importance of regular baking and the impact it has on customer trust.

“For us, it’s the fact that we make all our artisan breads fresh seven days a week,” he said. “I think we have the customer’s confidence that when they come in to buy a loaf of bread, they know it’s baked today. We’re not trying to keep them two days or three days. At the end of the day, people still love good bakery products. And they must be good. If they’re not good, they won’t buy them a second time.”