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Wheat bread beats white in sales, and it’s no big wonder

Melissa Kaplan Aug 3, 2010

Health-conscious consumers have been waiting for their day to reach a critical mass, and their wait may be over: For the first time in the history of recorded pre-packaged loaf sales, wheat bread has out-performed white in the U.S. Bestselling breads like Nature’s Own, Nature’s Pride and Arnold stuck to certain trends that helped them bolster up healthiness: a steady promotion of the bread’s “whole grain” or “natural” quality and visible grains on the product.

Health advocates may be cheering the win, but the move towards healthier consumption has been slowly gaining speed this year. Hostess, for example, saw the writing on the wall when it had its Wonder Bread brand relaunch the iconic “good ball players” marketing campaign this year with a healthy twist to fit modern consumers. After all, with everyone making so much of a big deal about the health benefits of wheat, it can be easy to forget that the fiber content, vitamin D and calcium in Wonder Bread’s “Smartwhite” bread means it’s actually good for you!

Here’s a teenage girl doing that pose that teenage girls often do, according to Hostess:

The latest data shows Hostess’ Wonder bread sales are down 5 percent to $220 million for the year.

Why wheat is winning

Wheat bread and white bread both come into the world as innocent wheat berries containing the nutrient-rich outer layers known as the bran, the innermost area or germ, and the endosperm in between:

Once processing comes into play, nutritional innocence can be lost: Wheat bread producers keep all nutrients intact, while those out for white bread only use the endosperm. The end result: white bread ends up losing a ton of fiber and other essentials. Even when white bread is enriched (like Wonder Bread), the refining of the flour drains the food of the most nutritious parts of the grain.

Wheat may be riding a sales high, but white is still ahead in volume. And both are subject to the impact of a global rise in wheat prices due to Russia’s supply shortage.

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