How to Tell if Bread is Fresh

Bread is the third largest contributor in the $360B CPG industry.

It’s an incredibly popular product among consumers, but has a very limited shelf life. So how do CPG companies navigate this? How do companies sell a product that lasts for mere days? 

Keep reading to discover the stages of bread freshness and how to prolong shelf life. 

What are the stages of bread freshness? 

There are four stages of bread freshness. A loaf of bread is generally good for about a week and progresses through the stages quickly.  

  1. Ultra-fresh: At this stage, bread is freshly baked and up to 1 day old. Ultra-fresh bread is moist, springy, and elastic. It’s hard to slice at this stage. Bread is delicious at this stage. 
  2. Fresh: During the fresh stage, bread is 2-3 days old. It loses moisture during the fresh stage and becomes easier to slice. Bread still tastes good during this one. 
  3. Dry: Days 3-5 are the dry stage of bread freshness. During these days, the bread continues to lose moisture and is even easier to slice. Bread is ok during this stage. People are probably noticing it could be better. 
  4. Stale: Any day after the fifth is considered stale. This is when the bread becomes hard to slice and to the touch. Bread eaten at this stage would be gross. 

Fresh loaves of bread sat on a wooden board

How to tell if bread is fresh? 

Consumers and businesses alike assess bread to determine freshness. 

But, it’s not always as easy as it seems. No one can taste bread that is already packaged, so they must rely on other methods. 

In store 

Grocery store associates do place the least fresh bread in the front of the shelves. But companies also use the color of the twist ties to communicate the freshness of bread. This makes it even easier to decode and choose the best option. The color of the tie tells you which day of the week the bread was made on, so you can determine freshness. 

  • Monday: Blue twist ties
  • Tuesday: Green twist ties
  • Thursday: Red twist ties
  • Friday: White twist ties
  • Saturday: Yellow twist ties 

Most stores only get bread deliveries 5 days a week so Wednesday and Sunday do not have colors. 

At home

Customers determine the freshness of bread based on how good it tastes. Some people do keep up with when they bought it and are organized. The rest of the population determines if the level of freshness depending on how it tastes. 

Or if there’s mold on it… most people figure it’s stale at that point. 

What factors affect bread shelf life? 

Several factors affect how long bread lives. Bread stored on top of a fridge in an open container will dry out and become hard much faster than bread sealed in a bread box on the counter. Other factors include: 

  • What type of bread it is
  • How you store it
  • The climate you store it in 

Type of bread 

Did you know store-bought bread lasts longer than homemade? 

Only by a few days, but it does last longer. Both types of bread can are good for 3 months in the freezer. 

White, multi-grain, and whole-grain breads last 5-7 days. Homemade bread lasts 4-5 days. 

Fresh homemade bread, sliced in half

Storage 

How you store bread is important. 

If you have it on the counter or in the pantry, it should be placed in paper or a tightly sealed container. When freezing bread, it should be in the original, unopened packaging or freezer bags with all the air pushed out. 

Climate 

Most people store bread at home on the counter, on the fridge, or in the fridge. On the fridge is a definite not. However, on the counter, in the cabinet, or in the fridge are all possible solutions if you have the right packaging. Bread must be sealed tightly if placed in the fridge or it will dry out quickly. 

The best climate for bread to remain fresh is room temperature away from direct sunlight or heat. This means no appliances or windows in the area where the bread is kept. 

How should bread be stored? 

Bread should be stored differently depending on the person or company. Customers store bread a little differently than CPG Brands, as you can read about below. 

CPG Brands 

Companies must keep bread as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Think of how much bread product is thrown out due to expiration dates! Here are 10 tips on keeping it fresher for longer: 

  • Store it at room temperature
  • Configure your AC to provide 20-25 air changes per hour
  • Use an air filter
  • Use a dehumidifier 
  • Arrange shelves to sell the oldest first 
  • Use proper packaging 
  • Have a solid merchandising strategy
  • Order smaller quantities more frequently 
  • Buy frozen
  • Understand the bread’s ingredients and how they affect shelf life 

Customers

Customers have several options to store bread to make it last longer. With the right storing strategy, customers can make sure your bread lasts longer without mold, moisture, or hard crust. The best ways to preserve bread include: 

  • Freeze it 
  • Wrap it in paper, not plastic
  • Use a bread box 
  • A cool and dry location (not on top of the fridge!)

Learn more about Buffalo Market 

Buffalo Market is a leading distributor of mission-driven food and beverage products. We work hard to get your healthy, sustainable CPG products in front of a larger audience.

Contact us today to learn more. 

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