While bakery volumes have been experiencing some heavy divots industry-wide, most bakers in the United States are benefiting from their products in key categories, as well as from their innovations and the strength of their brands. Up in Canada, however, not since the Atkins diet has the bread industry been hit so hard. Paul Hetherington, president and chief executive of the Baking Association of Canada reported in May that the current adversity to bread is different than when Atkins became popular because of several factors that probably won’t go away immediately, such as the damaged economy. Cash-poor consumers are more disciplined about not wasting food products.
“Bread is a perishable product, so if one is more careful with it, putting it in the freezer for example, it doesn’t go stale,” he says in a recent financialpost.com article. Dietary changes, the bad rap being taken by wheat products (deserved or not), and the surge in gluten-free diets by people not adversely affected by gluten have driven down conventional bread volumes. “There’s been a lot of pressure on volumes in the last couple years,” Hetherington says. “We are going to continue to see pressure on volumes throughout the year. I’d love to be able to say differently, but I don’t see that type of turnaround anytime in the near future.”