Simple sliced bread has long been a daily staple, but shoppers are snubbing it for more expensive, healthier or specialty bread products, supermarkets and manufacturers say.
Despite the trend, bread sales across the board are down, reflecting competitive discounting.
Countdown spokesman Luke Schepen said the supermarket was not seeing growth in bread sales, with consumers switching between products rather than buying more.
Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Shallue said wholemeal, wheatmeal and white breads appeared to be in decline, but healthier wholegrain breads such as Vogel's and Burgen were showing strong growth.
New products such as low-carbohydrate Freya's Sandwich Thins, and Tip Top Super Soft Oatlicious and Molenberg's Hidden Grains - grain breads disguised as white breads for children - were finding favour, while sales of specialty breads were also increasing.
"Less traditional lunch options are being consumed as customers branch out to more ethnic foods such as sushi."
Overall sales indicated consumers were making healthier choices when buying bread.
Shoppers spoken to at New World Metro in Wellington yesterday said price was less important than the type of bread.
Cleaner Deirdre Parkes, 46, was buying Venerdi gluten-free bread at $6.95 a loaf.
"I'm gluten sensitive. I can eat very small amounts of it, but I can't eat gluten bread."
She went through about a loaf a week, and while the price was a downside, "it's not worth the symptoms" to buy cheaper options.
Student Kate Sellar, 17, bought Vogel's bread for $5.15 and said there was not much difference in price.
"I don't like white bread, and Vogel's seems to make the best multi-grain."
Goodman Fielder bread category marketing manager Natalie Innes said wraps were the fastest-growing segment in the New Zealand bread market.
Consumers were looking for something different for dinners and lunches.
Shoppers had spent more than $1 million on its successful Freya's Sandwich Thins since they were launched four months ago.
One 45 gram serving of the Sandwich Thins had 40 per cent less carbohydrates than two slices of Freya's bread.
"Many consumers are concerned about managing, and in some cases reducing, their carbohydrate consumption," she said.
The company's gluten-free Vogel's bread had also performed strongly since launching in July last year.
Sales of specialty breads, including sourdoughs, ciabatta and Turkish breads, were up year on year at Countdown, Mr Schepen said.
Countdown's instore bakeries were looking to benefit from the trend, he said.
"Supermarkets will be providing more and more options that you might have traditionally seen down at a specialist bakery."
- The Dominion Post