Frozen Bread, Rolls Tout Clean Profiles
Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but most people like their bread and rolls hot, or at least warm. Although long available, thaw-and-serve and brown-and-serve bread and roll products in the frozen food section are garnering more attention as consumer interest in clean-ingredient decks rises.
“Because we use absolutely no preservatives, the benefit of freezing our 100 percent grain-free bread is the ability to prolong its shelf life and allow consumers the opportunity to enjoy it as they please, all while knowing they are getting a ‘clean’ product they can feel good about, without any additives,” says Amanda Orso, founder of New York-based Barely Bread, who adds that because the product line, made with alternative flour sources such as almond, coconut and sweet potato, “both freezes and thaws extremely well, it allows consumers the opportunity to enjoy our products at the pace that works for them and their families.”
This past summer, Barely Bread introduced what Orso calls “a full product line of breads, bagels, baguettes and rolls in order to support any meal or eating occasion.” She adds, “Our products meet the needs of consumers adhering to almost any diet or lifestyle, including Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, low-carb and diabetic, as well as all ‘clean’ eaters looking for a product free of preservatives and other fillers and additives.”
In the case of gluten-free products in particular, freezing can be especially crucial. “Gluten-free bread is traditionally full of preservatives and very often ‘gas flushed’ to allow a longer shelf life because sales rates for gluten-free are not as fast as traditional bread products,” observes Freya Ivory, marketing manager of BFree Foods, an Irish company with U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles, which makes gluten- and wheat-free breads.
“When products are ‘gas flushed,’ the oxygen is drawn out of the packaging and gas is added to prolong the shelf life,” she adds. “While not harmful to consumers, this process can remove moisture from the products and make them quite dry and crumbly. Freezing bread products allows BFree to offer artificial- and preservative-free products in regular packaging, allowing the texture and quality of our breads to remain as if they were freshly baked.”
In September, BFree rolled out Brown Seeded and Plain Hot Dog Buns, “made with a unique blend of flours, starches, protein and fiber,” according to Ivory. “Like all BFree products, the new hot dog buns are free from wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts and soy, making them free from all major allergens and completely vegan.”
Tough to Merchandise
Despite the fact that they have plenty to offer health- and quality-seeking shoppers, such products are often overlooked in the frozen section, where merchandising can be problematic.
Space is a big issue, for example. “Having enough space in the frozen aisle is probably one of the biggest challenges there is — especially with limited end cap display access — so that can sometimes be the biggest burden when it comes to merchandising,” admits Bill Spear, category manager at Chandler, Ariz.-based Bashas’, which operates more than 130 stores across the Grand Canyon State. “At Bashas’, we pride ourselves on working very closely with our vendors to merchandise as effectively as possible. During the holidays” — when he notes that sales of frozen bread and rolls are particularly brisk — “it’s extremely important to ensure that our best product performers have prime product space.”
Noting that “freezer cases are often crowded, foggy and sometimes cluttered,” Orso notes that Barely Bread “worked very hard to create packaging that would stand out among the masses and entice consumers.”
Continues Orso: “We are also proponents of educating our consumers with demos and sampling opportunities not only in-store, but also in surrounding businesses and fitness studios [that] we know our consumers regularly frequent. … Social media is also a big part of promoting Barely Bread, and we rely heavily on our customers and influencers to spread their love of our brand.”
“Traditionally, retailers carry their gluten-free products in the frozen grocery aisle in the center store, which is getting less and less foot traffic” in an age of perimeter-shopping consumers, says Ivory. “At BFree, we try to overcome this by placing stickers on the freezer door to communicate to consumers that they can find healthy bread products in the frozen section, too.”
‘The Way of the Future’
Regardless of the difficulties involved in merchandising them, frozen bread and rolls look set to gain in popularity beyond the holiday season.
“We believe this is the way of the future,” affirms Orso. “People want products without preservatives, and more and more people understand that freezing and refrigeration both act as natural preservation.”
“Continued freshness and quality will always be top of mind for Bashas’ and for our customers,” notes Spear, “and this includes frozen bread and rolls that are made available in-store.”