The study also found that bread preferences varied widely across the countries selected.
The Bread Purchasing Behaviour Study 2011 was conducted by Retail Institute Scandinavia on Novozymes’ behalf.
It looked at consumer trends across Spain, Denmark, Russia and the Netherlands and surveyed around 565 respondents from each country. The total sample size was 2274.
The study found that the principal driver of bread brand choice was bread that delivered the same quality each time.
Consumers rated ‘softness and springiness’ as the deciding factor in choosing between brands.
To test bread for its soft and springy properties, over half of consumer said they would always or often squeeze the bread when in the supermarket.
Friedbert Nehlsen, an independent consultant specialising in European retail said: “Current market trends see consumers prioritizing consistent quality and value for money over price, so of course retailers will be looking for consistent quality baked goods that both value and high-end shoppers can trust.”
The study found that after softness and springiness consumers were then concerned by price and shelf-life. The least pressing concern was said to be environmental claims.
It also found that decisions to buy a particular bread brand typically occurred before entering the store, although 65% of consumers could still be influenced at point of purchase, it said.
The study found that bread format preferences tended to vary from country to country.
For example, buns and rolls were found to be the most popular in Spain, but were among the least popular in Denmark, where consumers seemed to favour rye bread.
Similarly, rye bread was found to be the most popular bread form in Russia, but the opposite was true for the English who tended to prefer sandwich loaves.
Fokke van den Berg, Novozymes regional marketing manager for baking, said: “Given the differences in bread types and buying behaviour – for example to squeeze or not to squeeze – it is remarkable how uniform the need for crumb softness and springiness is across Europe.”
Main industry challenges
The survey also asked 128 people working within the industry to identify the number one challenge was for industrial bakers.
It found that the most common response was to produce ‘consistent quality of baked goods’.
The ‘fluctuation of raw material prices’ was named the second-most pressing concern, while ‘ability to innovate’ had moved from the biggest challenge in last year’s survey (which looked at four different countries) to a tertiary concern for respondents of the current study.