New Delhi: Time was
when bread came in white or brown, and anything more sophisticated
would entail a drive to a special bakery. But just walk down to
your friendly neighbourhood store today and a profusion of bread
varieties greets you - multi-grain, whole wheat, garlic, dalia,
fenugreek and more. Thanks to growing awareness about health and
also more adventurous eating habits, the demand for new
health-based or flavoured breads has gone up in Indian metros. And
manufacturers have been more than happy to oblige.
Ramesh Mago, president of the All India Bread Manufacturers
Association (AIBMA), says, "At least 30-40 varieties of bread are
easily available in the market."
"Consumers have become health-conscious and to keep up with their
demand, manufacturers have come up with a variety of breads," said
Gurbachan Singh, the owner of a grocery store in New Friends
"New variety is a big hit. Consumers have understood that eating
maida is not good for health; so wheat, daliya and multi-grain
breads have become part of their daily meal," Singh added.
Consuming fibrous food is part of healthy diet. Whole grain bread,
which is made with whole grains and seeds such as atta, barley,
gram, soya flour, oats, sesame, and other seasonal fruit and
vegetable seeds is the most sought after.
Then there are fruits and dry fruit-based breads such as olive,
walnut and fruit bread. Other varieties available in the market
are corn bread, mushroom and foccacia.
What's more, it doesn't pinch your pocket. An 800 gm loaf of white
bread costs Rs.20, while 400 gm of multi-grain bread is priced at
Rs.35; 350 gm brown bread Rs.17; and 480 gm dalia bread comes for
Harvest Gold is one of the first companies that took the bread
variety to the common man's doorstep.
"In 2007, we brought the American concept to India. We were the
first to bring the variety to local markets. There are about 27 to
28 different varieties, including pizza bases, that we produce,"
Darab Khan, marketing head of Harvest Gold, told IANS.
"The graph has definitely shown an increase in demand, specially
brown (wheat) bread, which fetches us 100 percent sales. The
section of health-conscious people has increased drastically in
the past five years and it is the sole reason why the concept of
taking a variety of breads to local market came into being," he
Sales of dalia and multi-grain breads are also picking up.
"We receive 50 percent rejection in products like dalia and
multi-grain breads due to various reasons. The concept is a hit in
posh colonies. It hasn't reached the remote areas yet, but it will
be a big hit in the next few years," Khan added.
Another company selling a variety is Gopala; and there is
Hindustan Unilever Ltd which makes modern atta bread.
Has this affected sales in bakeries?
"No point denying that it has definitely dipped our sales," Manoj,
an attendant at Maxim's bakery in south Delhi, told IANS.
"Now people pick up their choice of breads from local markets when
they go for their daily grocery shopping. But there are customers
who emphasise on the product being fresh; also, for some, loyalty
is also a force that brings them to bakery shops."
Neha Gupta, a professional, said: "Multi-grain is a healthy option
and it is available locally. When I am getting something at Rs.35,
why should I shell out Rs.50 just because it is from an elite
According to Mago of AIBMA, the per capita consumption of bread is
2.3 kg per year and the growth rate is around three percent
It is still not an organised sector. A recent data analysis by
Omega Analytics reveals that the organised sector production of
bread comes up to 1,500,000 mt (megatonne).
And the white bread still rules.
Rajesh of Britannia, which manufactures only white bread, says its
reach is greater in the interiors and it doesn't face any
"White bread still rules the market and covers most of the
localities. Middle-class and lower middle-class families,
specially in small towns and villages, still opt for white bread."
But, he concedes, "Yes, in the posh colonies and localities of
metros, variety has tried to make a place for itself."
(Manpreet Kaur can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)