Bread demand remained high through 2020, and it’s continuing into 2021. Sandwich bread sales rose 9% in 2020 after falling 1% in 2019, according to NielsenIQ data. Overall bread sales, which include flatbreads, artisan bread and English muffins, rose 10.6%.

“Just an amazing turnaround,” Todd Hale, retail insights thought leader and principal of Todd Hale LLC, told Features Editor Michelle Smith for the May issue of Baking & Snack.

While sandwich bread sales outpaced previous years, Ms. Smith pointed out that certain items eaten on sandwich bread did even better. For instance, pre-sliced deli cheese jumped more than 25%, deli lunchmeat rose 13.2% and jellies/jams were up nearly 14%, according to NielsenIQ.

“The sandwich bread category did not grow as fast as some of the products that are consumed with it, which I think is an opportunity,” Mr. Hale said.

Bakers could learn from campaigns like “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner,” which shares recipe ideas with consumers and helps families plan meals throughout the day.

“I’ll go out and buy the ingredients the same day to make that fabulous meal you get from the Food Network,” Mr. Hale said. “But you rarely see bread as a component of that meal. Or a dinner roll. I think there’s an opportunity for merchandise advertising to take advantage.”

Yes, don’t just sell bread, buns or rolls. Develop meal solutions and creatively market and merchandise these baked foods to maintain the momentum in the bread aisle going forward.