Weetabix Talking breakfast and beyond with the cereal experts

The Weetabix Food Company is one of the UK and Ireland’s leading food businesses, with a portfolio taking in Weetabix breakfast cereals, including Weetabix Original, Weetabix Crunchy Bran, Weetabix Protein, Oatibix and Alpen, the UK’s number one muesli brand, and the Weetabix On The Go range.

Weetabix’s iconic cereal brands Weetabix Original and Alpen have been with us for decades, but in recent years Britain’s breakfast habits have gone through a sea change as our lives have become busier. The company have embraced the challenge and come up with a brace of new products for consumers of different ages and needs, based on their expertise in cereals. In addition, Weetabix has been responding to the imperative facing the food industry in general to reduce sugar levels.

Darryl Burgess, Head of Sales at Weetabix Food Company spoke to Wholesale Manager:

“My full title is Head of Sales for Wholesale, Convenience, Foodservice, High Street Discounters and Ireland, which covers a wide range of channels.

I’m often on the road, visiting wholesalers and retailers to understand how we can serve customers better and help them increase not only the value of their Weetabix sales, but the whole breakfast category by allocating the right space to the right products.”

With so many SKUs in the portfolio, in our conversation Darryl prefers to pick out just some of Weetabix’s bestsellers.

At the top of the list are Weetabix original, the nation’s number one breakfast cereal and Weetabix Crispy Minis, which has shown strong market performance in recent weeks, with sales up twelve percent in value and ten percent in volume:

“We recently reduced the amount of sugar in Weetabix and are introducing a new pack design, which we believe will increase the brand’s sales even further.”

A healthier and tasty breakfast is a great start to everyone’s day and, says Darryl, it is the reason Weetabix was created more than 85 years ago and is the nation’s favourite cereal today:

“Weetabix is dedicated to bringing delicious and nutritious breakfast choices to the UK, helping to lead the breakfast category toward growth.”

Recent years have seen the cereal industry as a whole reducing the sugar level in their products, but, says Darryl, Weetabix Original “is, and always will be” a low sugar cereal, with all green traffic lights on pack:

“While we don’t know what further changes there are to come, Weetabix is committed to offering healthier products while preserving the taste that makes our already high fibre, nutritious cereals so popular with families. All our products have nutritional traffic light information on pack, making it easier for shoppers to make an informed choice.”

This year the company has launched a disruptive campaign, ‘Any-Which-Way- A-Bix’, with its retail partners, extending the famous ‘Have You Had Your Weetabix?’ campaign into an activation that aims to drive sales and category value. With 130 million bowls of Weetabix personalised “their way” by consumers each year, the Any-Which- Way-A-Bix campaign taps into the trend for customising food and celebrates all the ways Britons enjoy their Weetabix with fun and playful recipe inspiration on TV, on pack, online and in-store: A new dedicated TV advert ran as part of a master-brand media spend of over £10 million. This disruptive throughthe- line campaign was supported with in-store promotions and POS to capture shoppers’ attention. Ideas for inspired bowls is available across all channels, not least social media, with consumers encouraged to create and share details of their personalised Weetabix breakfasts.

“Combined with our new TV advert and a substantial media spend, this is one of our biggest campaigns and builds on the success of our awardwinning ‘Have you had your Weetabix?’ revival. We aim to excite and capture Britain’s attention, reinforcing Weetabix as a really enjoyable, healthy and advantageous way to start the day.”

Ready brek, Weetabix’s smooth porridge oat brand, has also returned to TV for the first time in five years, with its ‘Central Heating for Everyone’ campaign. The advert brought back Ready brek’s iconic ‘glow’, which was reintroduced on pack earlier last year.

“We were excited to bring Ready brek back to TV to demonstrate how quick it is to make and how warming it is. The brand is rich in heritage and remains a firm favourite with people of all ages. Our ‘glowing silhouette’ visual is an important brand asset that resonates with consumers. The campaign connected with long-standing, loyal consumers and attracted new shoppers to the brand.”

Another Weetabix brand, Weetos has also shown recent growth. One of the lowest sugar chocolate products in the category, Weetos is fortified with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D for strength, iron for alertness and vitamin B12 to help release energy.

But the most active part of the Weetabix portfolio at the moment, says Darryl Burgess, is Alpen, the UK’s number one muesli brand. The range was extended in 2018 with the launch of the new No Added Sugar variant, which is proving a hit with consumers.

The second initiative is the launch of Alpen Create, which went live in February 2019, and for the first time in Alpen’s history doesn’t include raisins. Following research suggesting 25% of shoppers dislike raisins, Alpen’s new option goes all out to win over these consumers, by encouraging them to enjoy muesli ‘their way.’ Like the Weetabix’s brand’s Any-Which-Way-ABix campaign Alpen Create targets the trend for more personalisation at the breakfast table, encouraging consumers to add their favourite ‘extras.’

The new cereal is made with allnatural ingredients, contains no added sugar and is high in fibre. The traditional rolled oats and toasted wholegrain wheat flakes, combined with Alpen’s signature dairy blend, make for a delicious, creamy taste. With twenty-six billion breakfast occasions currently personalised each year in the UK Weetabix expect the innovation to bring new shoppers to the muesli category.

As our lives get busier and busier, Darryl says more and more people are looking to make an active start to the day, whether walking or cycling to work or squeezing in an early gym session. This in turn affects our breakfast options:

“When you’re on the go in the mornings it can be a challenge to find a truly convenient breakfast that provides the energy, fibre and protein you need for an active and busy morning. This is why Weetabix On The Go was introduced and is the UK’s number 1 breakfast drink.

“From there, to meet the demand from consumers for more food products that help people increase their protein intake, as well as providing a substantial and tasty breakfast for on the move, we went on to introduce Weetabix On The Go Protein. We’ve found that demand for protein remains strong, and expect this to continue.”

As Weetabix have some of the nation’s best-selling breakfast brands and the convenience sector is crucial to category sales, says Darryl, convenience retailers and the wholesalers who supply them play a key part in their business:

“Our strategy is simple, we focus on allocating the right space for the right products, not just ours. Products in decline are often given too much shelf room, so we work to ensure our wholesale partners have a clear view on what the top sellers are, to make the most of the category’s potential.”

Darryl says he and his team are comfortable with the ongoing consolidation in the wholesale sector:

“There’s no doubt the landscape is changing and it’s only natural that the business is evolving over time. We see our role as a company being to maintain our relationships across the wholesale sector and make certain that our products are still widely available to our customers and consumers.”

Weetabix work closely with wholesale customers to ensure their product range works for them, including different pack sizes and price marked packs:

“PMPs are a major growth area for convenience retailers, as consumers increasingly look for reassurance on value. The Weetabix PMP range covers a range of SKUs across our cereal and drinks portfolio, at a range of price points. Value creation is also a key focus, and we work hard to ensure our PMP’s offer competitive shared margins.”

Weetabix believe strongly in the traditional wholesale values of promoting their products in cash ‘n carries and delivered wholesalers and building relationships:

“Last year we ran our ‘Win a Van’ competition which ran for six weeks in Bestway, Landmark and Today’s Group wholesale depots. This promotion really helped us to give back to wholesalers and retailers, while keeping Weetabix front of mind for our customers. We chose this promotion because a van is a bit more personal, and we knew from our research it was a prize retailers wanted to win. It’s really helped us to drive noise with the buying groups, their members and the end customer.”

The campaign has also helped to sell more of the Weetabix Food Company range, says Darryl, so their wholesale partners have seen strong sales across the products as a result. And there’s more good news to come:

“The breakfast occasion is more dynamic than it has ever been – the usual rules about what you can eat, and where you can eat breakfast, have been thrown out of the window – anything goes. This means brands have to keep up with changing trends and consumer demands – innovation is more important than ever and here at Weetabix, we’re proud of the NPD we’ve brought to market in the last decade. We’re leading the way with our cereals such as Alpen Create and our Weetabix Any-Which-Way-A-Bix campaign, which focus on taste and the fact that millions of bowls of cereal are personalised every year.”

The amount of Weetabix’s business which goes specifically through wholesale has grown significantly in recent years, says Darryl, and he is keen to build on it:

“Wholesale is an increasingly important channel for us and we are committed to working closely with cash and carries and delivered wholesalers to continue to grow this into the future. We already have a plan in place which includes focusing on a core range of Weetabix branded products, but from here on in we want to work even closer with wholesalers on optimising their offering, aligned to what customers want.”