Flowers expects favorable response to fresh bread reintroduction
by Eric Schroeder
BOSTON — Wonder, Merita, Home Pride and Butternut will return to the fresh bread aisle via Flowers Foods, Inc.’s direct-store delivery footprint beginning in late September and into October, Allen Shiver, president and chief executive officer of the Thomasville, Ga.-based baking company told participants at the Barclays Back-to-School Conference held Sept. 3 in Boston.
Flowers completed the acquisition of the bread brands from the former Hostess Brands, Inc. in late July, and since that time Mr. Shiver said Flowers has discussed its roll-out plans with trade customers, who have been supportive of Flowers’ strategy.
“We are focused on leveraging these new brands to gain incremental sales,” he said. “We have the original recipes for the acquired brands, and with the reintroduction we’re offering the traditional taste and flavor profile. Product quality, product freshness and service levels are all-important as we bring the brands back to the fresh bread aisle. Each of our bakeries has a specific plan that takes into consideration the strength of our acquired brands as well as the incremental volume we’ve gained since Hostess exited. Many white bread consumers are brand loyal so we have calculated the incremental volume we expect once these brands are available again.”
As the nation’s second-largest wholesale baker behind Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V., Flowers gained much of the volume when Hostess exited, but some of the volume went to store brands and to Grupo Bimbo and other competitors’ brands, Mr. Shiver said.
When Wonder, Home Pride, Merita, and Butternut are on the shelf again later this fall, though, he said Flowers expects consumers to react “very favorably.”
“I have confidence in our ability to execute our plans in our core markets in the south as well as our expansion markets,” he said. “Our expansion markets offer the greatest potential for incremental sales. As we’ve entered new markets without acquisitions, we’ve used Nature’s Own effectively. Tastykake has also performed well in our new markets. What we have not had in our branded lineup for new markets is the strong white bread brand. Our research shows that Wonder, Home Pride and the other brands we are acquiring will help fill that need. Our research shows that consumers have a high regard for the Wonder brand. In fact, 74% said that Wonder is a legendary part of the American diet. Home Pride and our other acquired brands also tested very well.”
As Flowers reintroduces the Wonder, Home Pride, Merita and Butternut brands, the company plans to connect with consumers in a variety of ways, including social media and traditional media, Mr. Shiver said.
“Our regional white bread brands will have publicity and local support as they are reintroduced in the markets where they have had strong sales,” he said.
For example, Mr. Shiver said Flowers plans to tie the relaunch of Wonder to a Nascar event. In addition to having a car compete in the races, Flowers plans to use creative marketing to connect the Wonder brand to Nascar fans, Mr. Shiver said.
Flowers also plans to use the Wonder brand to partner with the Children’s Miracle Network to help children's hospitals. Under the theme “Wonder’s back and Wonder gives back,” Flowers has committed to give 5c for every loaf of Wonder Classic and Wonder Whole Grain White that is sold from Oct. 1 through the end of 2013 to the cause.
“Wonder gives back is a great way to tie our reintroduction into one of our core giving strategies that is to support programs that help children in need,” Mr. Shiver said.