KANSAS CITY — Near complete household penetration may mask underlying challenges faced by the packaged bread industry, said Debo Mukherjee, chief marketing officer, Flowers Foods, Inc., Thomasville, Ga.

Mr. Mukherjee’s comments were part of a panel discussion organized by the Grain Foods Foundation. A member of the GFF checkoff committee, Mr. Mukherjee and other panelists discussed baking industry issues likely to be addressed in the event a baked foods checkoff program moves forward.

While baked foods may be found in about 98% of households, baking has not necessarily kept up with current trends, Mr. Mukherjee said.

“So particularly, we find the disruption happening with millennials or younger gen-z-ers where they are somewhat disconnecting from the sliced bread category and looking at other ways of satisfying that need, whether it is pitas, or wraps or frankly sometime not any wheat-based product at all,” he said. “So the relevance of the category is being threatened from that perspective. That’s what’s concerning.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Joshua Sosland, editor of Milling & Baking News and president of Sosland Publishing Co., during 2020 and is being distributed in brief segments by the GFF.

Other committee members participating in the panel discussion (conducted in two sessions) were Vince Melchiorre (Bimbo Bakeries USA), Chad Donvito (King’s Hawaiian), Brian Dwyer (The Kroger Co.), Dan Dye (Ardent Mills), Pete Frederick (steering committee co-chair; Grain Craft), Tony Martin (Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe) and Mr.  Mukherjee.