UK bread and bakery retail sales increased by 2.5% to reach GBP3.17bn (US$5.66bn) in 2005, according to a Research and Markets report.

In a “good year” for the bread and bakery products market, the industry was found to have maintained consumer interest and capitalised on trends, such as the growing awareness of the importance of healthy eating and the trend towards indulgence products.

The popularity of branded bread and bakery products over own label has also helped to maintain market value.

The market for traditional white and brown bread has seen particularly good growth during 2005, attributed mainly to a resurgence of interest in brown and wholemeal varieties. The white bread market showed virtually zero growth during the same period.

Research and Markets said that sales within the ethnic and speciality breads sector remained sluggish during 2005, possibly reflecting the fact that this is now a mature market.

The bakery products sector felt a similar drag from maturity but remained the largest individual sector, with sales slightly higher overall than those for white bread.

The research company concluded that the bread and bakery products sector is unlikely to show high levels of growth over the next five years.

However, the report added: “The industry has shown itself able to overcome some very strong challenges during the past decade. Although the relatively high level of growth during 2005 is unlikely to be sustained, with continued product innovation combined with efforts by manufacturers and industry bodies to promote both individual products and the bread category as a whole, there is no reason why reasonable growth should not be achieved.”