In the new year the date may change, but the challenges for the bread industry will remain the same.

“Let’s face facts — the packaged bread department has been a boring destination for some time now,” according to a published report by Watson Inc. titled “Developing next-generation packaged breads to revitalize the center store.”

Citing the research firm Packaged Facts, the report states 92% of U.S. households eat bread, but many families are eating it less frequently and 10% bought no packaged bread in 2017. Imagine that. The good news is there is plenty of opportunity to merchandise bread as part of a fresh appetizer, meal or snack solution — much like the food service and frozen prepared meal segments have done.

Many bakers already produce bread, buns and rolls that are nutrient dense and provide a cleaner label. These wholesome products may easily be incorporated into sandwiches and meals that not only are convenient, but also reflect the fresh culinary delights that drive consumers to eat out more often. This simple lesson about fundamental merchandising and marketing is one preached by industry experts, but it cannot be repeated enough.

Seek out this data-filled research, which may be found here. And, by the way, don’t just sell packaged bread. Make a resolution to promote meal solutions and engage consumers, especially millennials and young families who will provide industry growth for the foreseeable future. That’s how the industry can start this year on the right foot.