Bakery unafraid of fad bread-free diets

Mississauga’s Nova Bakery has seen customers becoming more health conscious, but the bakery’s owners are not concerned about sales despite fad carb-free diets.

At Nova, owner Ted Lopes said buying habits have changed, but loaves are still regularly going out the door.

“They try to find other kinds of bread, but still people buy it,” he told from his location on Cawthra Road. “They’re more into the whole grains now.”

Lopes comments come on the heels of bread giant Dempster’s new marketing campaign to improve the image of the food in daily diets.

Canada Bread, the subsidiary of Maple Leaf Foods Inc. that oversees the Dempster’s line, on Wednesday launched a multi-platform marketing campaign, heavily focused on social media, aimed at countering “the demonization of bread.”

It’s a direct response to the best-selling book Wheat Belly and the increasingly popular idea that all bread, even whole-grain kinds in the minds of some advocates, should be avoided for the sake of better health and a smaller waistline.

Despite the rising popularity of diets like Paleo, Atkin’s, slow-carb diets that prohibit bread, Lopes said he hasn’t really seen his overall sales go down in the last few years.  “Maybe 20 years I had to do all white bread and now I have to do a mix,” he said. “The white bread is a lot less popular now.”

Lopes said customers were starting to ask for the multi-grain breads over 10 years ago, but recently he noticed an interesting shift. “I think people are going back to the white bread,” he said. “Because there’s more taste in it.”

Lopes also said he thinks bread sales are lower now because daily eating habits have changed dramatically among younger generations. “Like my kids and grandkids, they’re not used to eating bread like we did in the old days,” he explained. “That’s what I see more than anything else. They won’t eat a piece of bread like we used to with butter. They’ll eat a cookie or something even worse than bread sometimes.”

In November 2012, the Mississauga-based Baking Association of Canada joined four other industry partners to launch the Healthy Grains Institute. The non-profit aims to use science-backed information “to inform and enhance Canadians’ knowledge and understanding of whole grains, how they contribute to our health and weight management, to dispel myths around whole grains such as wheat, oats and barley; and the gluten-free diet.”

No matter what the popular diet is, Lopes said a significant number of his customers would still continue to buy their bread at his bakery. “I sell a lot of bread to the European people,” he said. “The Portuguese, Italians, Croatians, and I don’t think they pay as much attention because that’s all they’ve been eating their entire lives.”

At Nova, Lopes estimated European customers make up 70-80 per cent of his sales. He said it’s because of the bakery’s location and the reputation they’ve built over the last 34 years in the business.

At the end of the day, Lopes also advised people to make their own considerations. “If you listen to all the publicity of what’s best for you then you won’t eat anything.”

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