In collaboration with trade industry magazine Checkout, market analysts at AC Nielsen complied a report of the UK's top 100 grocery brands and discovered bakery brand Warburtons came in at number two, beaten only by mega-brand Coca-Cola while crisp company Walkers took third place and bread competitor Hovis fourth.
The researchers concluded that health has been a major force in pushing certain brands into the top spots. Walkers in particular have benefited over the past year by rolling out lower salt and fat crisp ranges. New portion sizes and baked lines have also increased the brands profile and contributed to the 4 per cent growth the company enjoyed last year.
In terms of bakery, the success story is Warburtons who outperformed its closest competitor Hovis with 17.7 per cent growth in 2006 - taking sales from £437 million (€651.6m) to £514.3 million (€766.9m).
Strong performers in the Warburtons' portfolio have been healthy products such as Wholegrain Goodness, All in One loaf and the Healthy Inside prebiotic bread.
AC Nielsen group managing director Eleni Nicholas said: "A category as basic and familiar as bread has enjoyed huge growth. The wholemeal-white sector and granary, seeded, and fortified versions all contributing."
Hovis has been buoyed by its successful Invisible Crust product which brings in sales of £18 million (€26.8m) a year and other growing brands such as Granary and Best of Both have helped the company reach the £403.1 million (€601.1m) mark.
The third largest of the bakery giants is Kingsmill which fared less well with a 4.9 per cent fall in sales from £296.9 million (€442.8m) to £282.3 million (€421m). The owner of the Head Start, Crusts Away and Good as Gold brands still managed to make the number nine spot but is seeking to reverse its sales decline and strengthen the brand with a £14 million (€20.8m) investment this year in revamping its line.