Let them have cake and biscuits! Busy Brits refuse to give up impulse snacking

Snacking has long been an important part of many people’s day-to-day life, and biscuits and cakes are traditional favourites in the UK.

While cakes and biscuits are generally seen as unhealthy indulgences, they remain are a popular treat, something ever-more busy consumers can easily turn to as a snack, as a little bit of fuel or to improve their mood.

Despite consumer concerns about dietary evils like sugar or fats, FMCG Gurus consumer research from last year’s UK Fresh Bakery and UK Pre-Packaged Bakery Surveys demonstrates that biscuits and cakes are still a major part of the diets of many consumers.

On average, 38% of consumers eat fresh biscuits at least once a week, and 42% have pre-packaged, 39% have fresh cake weekly, while 21% consume pre-packaged cake.

“These consumer insights demonstrate that, even though market trends may generally indicate a significant move towards active nutrition, consumers are still drawn by indulgence and enjoyment,” says Andrew Crofts, Senior Research Analyst at FMCG Gurus

The total biscuits market has value sales of £3bn growing at a rate of 2.8% year-on-year (Nielsen).

Biscuit snacking occasions are up by 34m over the last 5 years (SnacksSurvey) which corresponds with an extra 20 snacks a year for every person in Great Britain.

Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars Chocolate Drinks & Treats (MCD&T) says: “Continued innovation is the key to success in the sweet biscuits category.

“We are fortunate that our confectionery brands are already instantly recognisable but of course, that doesn’t bring automatic sales.

“Our biscuits have to taste great and grab consumer interest in terms of new formats and packaging.”

MCD&T now has twelve sweet biscuit skus, having launched Maltesers Biscuits in January 2020.

The launch is the first time that the popular confectionery brand has been seen in the biscuit aisle.

Michelle says: “We are really excited to be introducing this iconic brand into the biscuit aisle for the first time.”

Maltesers Biscuits are available to order now from Burtons Biscuits and come with an RRP of £1.49 for a 110g pack.

MCD&T’s established cookie range, which includes Galaxy Chocolate Cookies, Bounty Soft Baked Cookies and M&M’s Double Chocolate Cookies, is performing exceptionally well, says Michelle.

The range is now valued at £10.6m (Nielsen), and definitely deserves consideration from wholesalers due to the recognition of these brands.

While the biscuits category overall is in good health, the increased focus on portion control and permissible snacking due to healthier lifestyles has had major impact on the sweet biscuits sub-sector.

Consumers are turning to lower fat, salt and sugar options that don’t compromise on quality, which in turn is forcing suppliers and big brands to adapt their ranges.

“We’re committed to enabling consumers to make informed choices, allowing them to enjoy biscuits and snacks which suit their individual lifestyle,” says Kate Needham, Marketing Director at Burton’s Biscuit Company.

“We also recognise the importance of offering a variety of permissible snacks and have a wide range of initiatives to drive the agenda on sugar, portion control and calorie reduction.”

One such initiative is the rollout of the Burton’s ‘Under 100 Calorie Club’, accelerating demand for its market-leading ‘less than 100 calories’ range, with products suitable for consumers of all ages.

The timely move enables Burton’s to promote the UK’s biggest range reduced calorie biscuits together.

The Under 100 Cal Club range includes: Jammie Dodgers Minis (89 kcal a portion) MRSP £1; Jammie Dodgers Jam & Yogurt Snacks (97 kcal a portion) MRSP £1.39; Maryland Minis Choc Chip (99 kcal a portion) MRSP £1; Maryland Minis Double Choc Chip (99 kcal a portion) MRSP £1; Maryland Oaty Cookie Bars (94 kcal a portion) MRSP £1.39; Maryland Chocolate Cookie Bars (97 kcal a portion) MRSP £1.39.

Burton’s will be backing the Under 100 Cal Club with a range of in-store activation throughout 2020 and will be engaging consumers with activations which bring the club to life and encourage them to think about responsible snacking.

Seasonal cakes and biscuits have traditionally played a significant role in the category, but this train of thought is now being challenged with expert advice from suppliers suggesting stocking year-round premium options is the way to go.

Insight from recent Kantar data backs up this view, showing seasonal sales to be down by approximately 11% year on year.

“This highlights that people are looking for products that are available all year round and not just on seasonal occasions,” says Suzie Carlaw, Border Biscuits Marketing Manager.

“To maximise sales, wholesalers need to focus on offering as much genuine choice to their customers as possible, ensuring all lines are fully stocked and ready to be shopped.”

She adds: “Stocking special treat products such as Border Biscuits can also provide a boost to wholesalers and their customers.”

Border Biscuits’ leading sku is its Dark Chocolate Ginger while their Lemon Drizzle Melts continue to be one of their best performers.

The supplier’s Sharing Pack remains a mainstay for business meetings and catch ups with friends. It offers a shared eating experience with premium quality that is ideal in a wide variety of situations.

On the back of the success of the Dark Chocolate Ginger, Border Biscuits has introduced a giftable Dark Chocolate Ginger pack that is available all year round.

The brand has been supported by marketing throughout 2019 with the latest being a television campaign centred on the famously fiery flavour of our Dark Chocolate Gingers.

“We are also excited about the introduction of the new Mini Pack Counter Display Unit in the convenience channel, featuring our two most popular mini pack varieties – Light and Buttery Viennese Whirls and Divinely Chocolatey Cookies,” says Suzie.

The healthier biscuits sub-category is growing by 2% and accounts for 24% of the total biscuit market (Nielsen).

In fact, it has contributed to more than half of the total category growth in the past two years.

With 85% of consumers claiming they are trying to improve some of their diet to become healthier, almost 1 in every 3 food items are now chosen for health (Nielsen).

To meet this consumer trend, belVita, the UK’s leading breakfast biscuit brand, has launched a new a 30% less sugar variant of its Seeds and Berries range.

Available in two flavours – Raspberry & Chia Seeds, and Blueberry & Flax Seeds – both come in six-pack boxes with three biscuits per pack.

“The brand has a 61% repeat rate so once shoppers know a store carries the range, they should keep coming back,” says Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International.

“The growth opportunity within the range is driven by multipacks or take-home packs, so wholesalers should ensure they stock up on these formats to maximise sales.”

Ritz has also tapped into this desire for health as Ritz Original crackers now include 70% less saturated fat, while Ritz Cheese crackers now include 50% less saturated fat.

The special treat segment is in 1.6% growth (Nielsen), with consumers willing to trade up from commoditised offers to more premium and indulgent treats.

Cadbury Biscuits are the leading special treat brand accounting for nearly half of this sub-category’s value (Nielsen).

“In fact, nearly £1 in every £2 spent on special treat biscuits is on Cadbury Biscuits,” says Susan.

“While Cadbury Fingers are the number one special treat in the Cadbury range, the latest innovations, such as Cadbury Crunchy Melts, have introduced new consumers to the sub-segment too.”

Cadbury Brunch Bar has added protein to its range with the arrival of two new bars: Cadbury Brunch Bar Peanut Protein and Cadbury Brunch Bar Cranberry & Nuts Protein.

Looking at the types of shoppers who buy into biscuits, the average biscuit shopper is over 65 (Nielsen), but by offering a differentiated experience that meets their needs the next generation of biscuit lovers can be attracted to the category.

Oreo attracts a younger consumer, for example, with the average shopper under 45 years. The brand has growing frequency of purchase among 28-44 year olds, says Susan.

A growing number of the younger generation buying cakes and biscuits are driving the demand for free from products, amplified by the rise of consumers avoiding certain food groups in a bid to eat healthier.

It’s no surprise then that the UK free from market is now worth £837 million – an increase of 133% in five years (Mintel).

Nairn’s, the UK’s number one gluten free brand and third biggest ‘Free From’ brand (Mintel), continues to answer this growing demand by expanding their successful gluten free range.

They recently introduced their newest addition, Gluten Free Oats, Apple & Cinnamon Chunky Biscuits Breaks, to the market.

Packed with wholegrain oats, these new additions are significantly lower in sugar than competitor products and contain 50% less sugar than the average sweet gluten free biscuit.

Another new offering to its portfolio is Nairn’s Gluten Free Oaties.

This new launch answers a growing demand for healthier gluten-free options and takes Nairn’s into the ‘everyday biscuit’ category.

Full of the goodness of wholegrain oats, Gluten Free Oaties are also high in fibre and only 48 calories per biscuit. The RRP is £1.29.

Emma Heath, Head of Marketing at Nairn’s comments: “The new Oaties are a fantastic addition to our ever-expanding gluten free range.

“Demand for simple free from products has never been higher, and with sugar under the spotlight in recent years, we’re proud to have a gluten free range which showcases the health credentials of oats, champions lower sugar content, and importantly, doesn’t compromise on taste.”

Enjoyment is the number one driver in the sweet bakery category, accounting for 94% of servings in ISB sweet bakery (Kantar).

While there remain some challenges on the grocery side – sweet bakery sales in in-store bakeries (ISB) are down 6.4% year-on-year – opportunities for growth in the category do exist.

Out of home spending on sweet bakery goods rose by 5% year-on-year to £2bn in 2018 (Kantar) and this growth is being driven primarily through indulgent treating and consumers spending more on visually enticing products that offer a fantastic eating experience.

“Leading hectic lifestyles means that consumers are increasingly seeking comfort in sweet treats and rewards, often at the premium end of the scale.” says Rich’s Marketing Director, John Want.

Here, consumers are aware their choices are not health-driven; and if they’re going to indulge, they want luxurious premium products that are ‘worth the calorie’.”

This trend has is one of the reasons Rich’s has developed a bespoke new range.

Baked By Rich’s is a suite of premium products of coffee shop quality that are designed to help wholesalers and retailers show-off the sweet bakery sector. “They really give the wow factor,” says John.

The range includes cookies, muffins, buns, shortbreads and pastries that are available either fully finished thaw-and-serve or as frozen cookie dough for bake-off in store.

“What’s more, we can work with clients to bring their own bespoke products to life, giving outlets a unique opportunity to customise their baked goods range to delight their customers,” says John.