Ireland’s continuing love affair with bread

A report recently published by Bord Bia on trends in the bakery category in Ireland makes for interesting reading. It highlights key changes in consumer motivations and emerging needs over the past few years which are influencing purchasing behaviours.

bread food toast breakfast
Photo by Pixabay

While there are fewer people now buying packaged sliced pans (56% in 2018 as compared with 71% in 2014), the sliced loaf does however remain the most regularly purchased item in the bread bin. So, in spite of health trends and increased sophistication driving choice, old favourites still have a firm place.

Category Evolution

The category has evolved hugely in the last few years with consumers both expecting and demanding greater choice and availability. Diversification of the bread bin has opened up space for other carriers and is a key driver of market trends.

Three key trends can be summarised as follows: Production, Packaging and Props.

  1. The craft movement and processes stripped back to the core are gathering pace. Craft is stretching further and length of production is seen as a signifier of a better, healthier product.
  2. People are increasingly conscious of the impact of packaging on the environment and want less waste, biodegradable packaging and a guilt free shopping experience
  3. In-store merchandising makes great use of domestic cues, bringing alive the homely qualities of product and the care that went into their making. These include wooden tables, chalk boards, rustic props and an open kitchen.
Fresh Supermarket, Smithfield

Key Buying Motivations

The appeal of baked goods plays well to the three central consumer motivations of (1) Great Taste, (2) Treating Myself and (3) Unbeatable Freshness. Some trends are enduring, and people feel undeniably anchored by a product regarded as central to their lives. The challenge however lies in keeping consumers attention and tailoring to the many eating occasions that the modern consumer engages in (think 8 snacks rather than 3 meals). Also delivering a feel good aspect to people’s choices; as tension can exist between people’s active pursuit of health goals and their food repertoire.

People have functional and emotional needs so will for example seek Taste and Health as well as Sophistication. Opportunities lie in meeting the combinations of these discerning needs and the diverse clusters and segments of groups with new and fresh ideas and delivery formats – the “What’s Next?”.

Growth in Food Occasions

The growth in the number of food occasions is a key driver in the category’s performance, with baked items featuring right throughout the day from Breakfast’s “Kick Start” to the Mid Afternoon’s “Treat O’Clock” all the way through to the Late Evening “Wind Down”. As people’s repertoires expand, their use for bread products will grow.

Purchase Drivers

In terms of purchase drivers, comparisons were made with an earlier study in 2014.  “Made in Ireland” moved up in rank from 8th to 4th, while “From a brand I trust”, moved from 9th to 6th, showing the importance of branding and provenance in this category. The top three drivers are Taste, Price and Freshly Baked (in order of preference).

women s in white scoop neck mini dress in front of boy s in gray top and blue shorts
Photo by Igor Starkov on

Three distinct and different segments of consumer are identified in the research as follows:
• Triers – this cohort are adventurous and like to experiment
• Reliers – an older and more conventional demographic seeking old reliables
• Flyers – driven by convenience, simplicity and value.

The report, which also identifies a number of Opportunity Platforms providing ideas for growth can be downloaded here.

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