Grocery shoppers may have noticed some familiar packages in the bread aisle this week that have been missing for nearly a year.
Starting Monday, Merita and Wonder breads were restocked on local shelves after the brands’ purchase by national baked goods producer Flowers Foods.
“We think it’s going to be fantastic,” Jess Maggard, President of Flowers Foods’ Morristown bakery said Tuesday. “We’re using the same recipes as before and the old Wonder and Merita packaging, so people won’t even notice a difference.”
The company purchased the well-known brands and 20 bakeries in July from Hostess Brands Inc., which was declared bankrupt and liquidated in early 2012.
In the wake of Hostess’ shuttering, the two bread brands have been unavailable for 10 months, during which time Flowers Foods brokered a deal and was given the go-ahead by the U.S. Department of Justice a couple of months ago, according to Maggard.
“This launch allows us to grow our portfolio and bring back a historic brand that has been around since 1921,” he said of Wonder Bread. “We’re also breaking into new markets with our current products and getting a better presence on store shelves.”
Flowers Foods added the new acquisitions to its current lineup, which includes Nature’s Own, Bunny and Cobblestone Mill breads and Tastykake sweets.
Maggard said consumers should be able to find the familiar breads at many of the local supermarkets in the area and in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Southwest, and California where Flowers Foods products are already distributed.
The Thomasville, Ga., company plans to gradually expand its distribution network into new territories, bringing its new and old products with it.
According to the company’s website, 77 percent of U.S. residents live in an area where Flowers Foods brands are sold.
The company owns 43 bakeries in the U.S., including three in Tennessee.
“The main thing we want to do now is let everybody know that these breads are back,” Maggard said. “We’ve been waiting to say that for a long time.”
Another famous former Hostess brand, Twinkies, was purchased by a newly formed company that took up the Hostess name and reintroduced in July.