ABF has launched sandwich thins under the Kingsmill banner

ABF has launched sandwich thins under the Kingsmill banner

Allied Bakeries, the bakery unit of Associated British Foods, is extending the Kingsmill brand with the launch of a line of sandwich thins.

The range of "thin rolls" will be available throughout the UK from this month. Products are first being fed into Asda, with distribution in Tesco, Morrisons and wholesale customers from October.

Speaking at a launch event in London today (3 September), Allied Bakeries head of innovation Janene Warsap said the line hopes to tap into "three key trends" around "taste, convenience and health". The rolls are "soft", "versatile", come pre-sliced and contain 99 calories, she explained.

Kingsmill sandwich thins will initially come in two varieties, white and 50-50. "White bread is the most popular flavour and has mass appeal... and we know people are looking for healthy alternatives so we are also using the strength of the 50-50 brand," Warsap said.

In the future, Allied Bakeries could look to extend the brand further with the addition of other variants such as brown or wholegrain, Warsap told just-food.

The company hopes to gain a 25% market share as the Kingsmill brand attracts new people to the alternative bread product category, she continued.

Growth in "alternative" bakery products is outpacing the overall bakery category, with an annual volume growth rate of around 12%, Kantar Worldpanel's Chris Longbottom revealed.

"A 12% volume growth is encouraging," he observed. "One of the themes is innovation - something different - is what is catching consumers imagination."

Thin rolls have seen the number of UK consumers buying them increase from 2m to 6m over the past three years. "No let up for growth is really seen for this sector," Longbottom predicted.

The launch has been supported by a GBP8.4m investment in infrastructure, with a dedicated production opened at Allied Bakeries' facility in Glasgow. The line has a capacity of 33,000 sandwich thins per hour and 27 new jobs have been created as a result, management revealed.

In addition, the company plans a GBP5m two-year marketing campaign that will include in-store support and TV advertising.

The launch pits Kingsmill against Warburtons' sandwich thins brand. Marketing manager Jon Wilson conceded the products were "not massively different" but stressed the Kingsmill brand nevertheless had something new to bring to the table.

"What Kingsmill is bringing [that is] new and different is that it has a reach and appeal that will bring in families."

To find out more about how Allied Bakeries is leveraging its "youth appeal" check back later.