For the bakery department especially, incorporating a variety of whole grains can help up-jump lagging bread sales. According to Eric Richard, education coordinator of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, overall bakery department sales have increased by 5 percent in the last year, but bakery bread sales have either remained flat or decreased for most retailers. Shoppers, it appears, are largely abandoning standard bakery breads for more complex branded ones.

“It’s no secret that consumers are looking for whole grain products in the grocery aisles, and the bakery department is no exception,” says Lauren Tulig, RDN, CD and dietitian manager for Skogen’s Festival Foods. “According to the 2015 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation, the presence of whole grains in a product continues to be a strong factor in in?uencing consumers to buy a product. The report found that 67 percent of Americans think whole grains are the most important item they look for on packages and 70 percent are trying to consume more of them.

“If a supermarket does not offer any whole grain options in the bakery department, it is likely that the shoppers who want to eat and feed their children whole grains are bypassing the department altogether. If a supermarket is able to offer whole grain options, changing the reputation of the bakery department to offering healthful items, customers will be more likely to shop the department and build basket size.”

And there are a number of different whole-grain options you can consider when drawing up a list of new breads to start preparing. One in particular — sprouted grains — is becoming more and more trendy, with consumer demand for them rising across the country.

“Sprouted grains are very popular right now, and for good reason,” Tulig agrees. “Sprouted grain products contain grains that are sprouting; meaning they’re at the middle stage between a seed and a full-grown plant. In order for a plant to ‘sprout,’ an enzyme in the grain activates, which breaks down starch from the seed into simple pieces that the plant embryo can digest. In fact, these enzymes also help with digestion in humans.

“The sprouting process increases the accessibility of nutrients like vitamin C, B vitamins, folate, fiber and even lysine — which is often lacking in whole grains. This means that you can absorb and use these nutrients better when you get them from sprouted grains, so your grains are doing more for you.”

Tulig recommends that in-store bakeries can take advantage of this and other whole-grain product trends by focusing on their prepared breakfast offerings, as many consumers seek out whole grains for this eating occasion specifically.

“Capitalize on better-for-you breakfast options that are also great on the go, like muffins, homemade granola and granola bars, bagels and even breakfast cookies,” she suggests. “Then cross-merchandise these items with high-protein items, such as yogurts, nut butters and protein drinks, to make the bakery a destination for healthful meal solutions.”

Providing prepared foods that incorporate your whole grain breads — and more importantly, merchandising and promoting that fact— is a sure-fire way to kick up stagnant bread sales. And if you do it right, it might even keep them up.