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On the Rise

Bread businesses are making a post-Atkins comeback.

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This story appears in the July 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The low-carb fad is slowing down from its once white-hot streak, and everyone from diet dabblers to the low-carb hard-liners--myself included--are now sneaking their hands back into the carb jar for a taste of the forbidden fruit--or maybe just a piece of bread. In February, the Grain Foods Foundation launched a public education campaign, Grains for Life, in an effort to extol the many nutritional virtues of breads and grains. With that PR boost, the bread industry seems poised to counterattack the low-carb blow. As bread businesses ready themselves for a comeback, entrepreneurs are right there at the front lines.

Wendy Born and James Barrett say no to vendors offering low-carb flour to Metropolitan Bakery, their Philadelphia business. The owners of the artisanal bakery decided education would be the best tool to battle against the 15 percent drop in sales they experienced during the Atkins craze. Says Born, "We have fliers to explain what our breads are, the differences between whole grain and white flour, and how bread is burned in the body." Training their staff to discuss the merits of bread has helped customers who may have shunned bread to see the good in whole grains. Since then, Born, 53, and Barrett, 42, have experienced an enormous boost in sales of multigrain bread, whole wheat bread and cracked wheat sourdough bread--they project 2005 sales of $3 million for their four stores.

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