Wheat Bread Outsells White Bread

Yet another sign that the America of my youth is dead: whole wheat bread is outselling white bread.

Yet another sign that the America of my youth is gone:

Whole grains are the hottest trend in sliced bread, with whole wheat edging out soft white bread in total sales for the first time.


The best-performing breads are promoting credentials like “whole grain” and “natural,” sometimes asking consumers to pay more for those loaves. And it seems to be working. Breads with “natural” in the name, or grains visible through the packaging, are among the best performing at grocery stores. Among them: Nature’s Own, Nature’s Pride, and Arnold.

It’s part of a major turning of the tide. Packaged wheat bread recently surpassed white bread in dollar sales, according to Nielsen Co. For the 52 weeks ended July 10, wheat bread sales increased 0.6 percent to $2.6 billion, while white bread sales declined 7 percent to $2.5 billion. White bread is still ahead in volume, but the margin is shrinking. Americans bought 1.5 billion packages of white bread in the last year, a 3 percent decrease, and 1.3 billion packages of wheat bread, a 5 percent increase.

I haven’t bought Wonder Bread (whose sales are down 5% this year) or its cousins in, goodness, fifteen years or more.  This is one of many, many examples of change being a good thing.

(As a statistical note, I should point out that white bread is almost certainly still considerably outselling wheat bread by volume.  It’s just that wheat bread is quite a bit more expensive.)

via Ezra Klein

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Health,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Franklin says:

    I never ate much bread, but I’ve always sort of wondered why wheat bread cost more since white bread seems to require more processing. Is it simply a supply & demand effect?

  2. James Joyner says:

    I’m guessing white bread is easier to mass produce but, honestly, I don’t know much about bread making.

  3. whole grain bread tends to be denser too, so some of the increase may do with that for white bread, you’re paying for a lot more air.

    My personal favorite bread is Arnold oat nut bread.

  4. Gerry W. says:

    There was a write up (on AOL I think) on SUBWAY sandwiches and their whole grain bread is not what it is. Sometimes you don’t know. But I eat the store brands all time and have not touched white bread in over 20 years.

  5. RGardner says:

    About the only white bread I’ve eaten in years has been hamburger and hot dog buns, plus the occasional dinner roll – so not quite white bread, but close. I’ve tried the whole wheat versions and prefer the original.

  6. Maggie Mama says:

    They’re making much more interesting “whole grain” breads these days … and I love them.

    I find that the only white bread I occaionally eat is the round loaf of Italian bread my husband demands to have served up with his pasta & gravy. He won’t let me have the bakery slice it … he prefers to do that himself as needed.

    I’ll eat the Italian bread when he makes his great grilled cheese sandwich …. somehow a grilled cheese on healthy whole grain bread seems like an oxymoron.