Private Label Buyer
Private Eye - Bakery

What's Baking in the Bread Aisle

January 15, 2013
Private Eye bakery

Bread and Baked Goods is not only a multi-billion dollar category, but is on the rise in both dollar share and unit share.

Total dollar volume in 2011 in all outlets was $18.7 billion, up 0.7 percent from 2010, according to Nielsen records compiled for the 2012 PLMA Private Label Yearbook. Unit share was up 1.4 percent to a 37.2 percent share of the category.

PLBuyer sent three of its secret shoppers to check out the bread aisle at Ingles in North Carolina, King Soopers in Colorado, and Albertsons in Arizona.

We asked them to evaluate how their local grocers market and merchandise their private label merchandise.

In addition to looking for in-store promotions and advertising, shoppers recorded prices of comparable private label and national brand wheat bread, hamburger buns, English muffins, and sandwich thins. They then conducted their own taste tests in one of these categories.

Here, we provide you with our gathered insight.


The Ingles visited in Asheville, N.C., did not place its store brands side-by-side with its national brands in the bread aisle, and Christina R. reported the King Soopers in Colorado Springs, Colo., crowded the bread aisle with breads assorted on the shelves by brand. 

Both Bill K. and Christina reported these stores didn’t offer in-store private label promotions of any kind. At a Mesa, Ariz.-based Albertsons, the story was the opposite. Sarah C. reported seeing in-store private label merchandising and national brands and private label products shelved side-by-side. She said the item that was on sale that week (and featured in the retailer’s weekly ad) was positioned on most of the shelves from top to bottom.

In several product types, the King Soopers shoppers’ club card brought the margins down. Sara Lee bread was $3.49, but with the shoppers card, it was $2.29. The Kings Soopers Wheat Bread was $1.69 and only $1 with the club card. Sara Lee hamburger buns were $2.99, while the Kings Soopers were $1.49, and 10 cents cheaper than that with the club card.

The largest price gap was seen in the sandwich thin category at Albertsons. There was a $2.79 difference between the Roman Meal Sandwich and Albertson’s Sandwich.

Surprisingly, none of the three stores surveyed offered a private label English muffin product. Bill K. told us he occasionally buys private brand English muffins during his regular shopping trips, and Christina R. also reported English muffins as a regular bread aisle purchase of hers.


Christina R. sang praises of the Kroger brand sandwich thins she bought at King Soopers. She found them ”soft and great to make sandwiches with,” which is great news for shoppers looking for a good deal, as national brand Oroweat was offered for $1.90 more than the Kroger brand.

Sarah C. didn’t find too much difference between the national and store brand hamburger buns at Albertsons. But if you’re talking about a premium version of the national brand, her opinion changes.

“There is a difference to other national brands like a Sara Lee Hearty and Delicious – their hamburger buns are bigger and softer and taste better,” she said.