Following the success of its white bread made with a blend of whole-grain flour, Sara Lee today is helping launch 2006 as the year whole grain goes mainstream by entering the breakfast bread and English muffin segments with product introductions that combine white flour and whole-grain flour so they taste like traditional baked goods but include whole-grain nutritional benefits.
In 2005, more than 400 whole-grain foods were introduced and sales of wheat, whole-wheat and whole-grain bakery items far outpaced white-flour products over the past year. But the majority of consumers are still buying breads, buns, bagels, and English muffins with no whole grains in them.
That's why the most successful whole-grain product of 2005 and the most successful enriched white-flour product in 2005 were one and the same. Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Made with Whole Grain White bread, made from a blend of enriched white flour and whole-grain flour, has catapulted to the best-selling loaf of bread in America since its launch in July 2005 - delivering more than 125 million servings of whole grain to white-bread lovers in three months. The table has been set for 2006 to be the year whole grain goes mainstream throughout the bread aisle.
Blending whole-grain flour with enriched white flour, Sara Lee has now introduced three new varieties of breakfast breads and two new varieties of English muffins that combine traditional taste with whole-grain nutrition.
Sara Lee breakfast breads come in three varieties -Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Cinnamon with Raisins, and Blueberry Crumble - that deliver the sweet taste, texture and aroma of all-enriched flour breakfast breads while using between 35 percent and 45 percent whole-grain flour. Each variety also is a good source of fiber and has no trans fat.
Sara Lee Original English Muffins Made with Whole Grain have the taste, appearance and color of traditional plain English muffins while using 14 percent whole-grain flour. Each muffin has 5 grams of whole grain, or more than 10 percent of the daily minimum amount recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Naturally flavored with pure honey, the muffins contain no trans fat, artificial colors or flavors and are sold in six-count, 14-ounce packages.
Sara Lee Heart Healthy Wheat English Muffins Made with Honey use 30 percent whole-grain flour to provide a wheat flavor and 10 grams of whole grain per muffin. Sold in a six-count, 14-ounce package, they have no trans fat and no artificial colors or flavors.
The new breakfast breads and English muffins join new Sara Lee Made with Whole Grain Plain Bagels to form a full breakfast portfolio that pairs whole grain and refined grain in products that have the taste, appearance and texture of mainstream baked goods.
Sara Lee Made with Whole Grain Plain Bagels taste and look like traditional plain bagels but are made with 15 percent whole-grain flour to deliver 9 grams of whole grain per bagel. Introduced in October 2005, they are sold in a six-count, 20-ounce packages. They contain no trans fats and no artificial flavors or colors.
Interest in whole-grain products has soared in recent years as a result of the popularity of low carbohydrate diets, new studies showing whole-grain health benefits, and the revised U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new My Pyramid Food Guidance System calls for Americans to consume at least three 1-ounce servings of whole-grain foods per day and to balance their consumption of enriched-grain foods with whole-grain foods. Whole-grain consumption has been correlated with decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type-2 diabetes, and may aid in weight maintenance.
The sales of wheat, whole-wheat and whole-grain breads, buns, bagels, and English muffins have increased over the past year, but the majority of sales are still white bread, white buns, plain bagels and traditional English muffins. White products are still the biggest seller. Of the pounds of packaged bread, buns, bagels and English muffins sold, 57 percent was white products, 30 percent was wheat products, and 13 percent was other flavors or varieties.
While consumers understand the benefits of whole-grain foods, barriers to consuming more whole-wheat and whole-grain breads are color, texture, softness, and taste.
Sara Lee will enter the breakfast bread and English muffin segments by introducing products using the company's flour-blend strategy.