• The pladis Annual Biscuit Review of 2020 depicts a bumper year for biscuits – up £212 million (+7.2%) compared with 2019 – as the category hit £2.96 billion
  • The Review cements how important the core range is in the category’s success (accounting for 84% of total growth), with seven of the top 10 brands in double-digit growth
  • An exceptional year for the category means the outlook is positive – and pladis reveals sales could touch £3 billion by the end of 2021, plus shares advice on how retailers can maximise growth for this important category 

pladis, the UK’s number one biscuit manufacturer and the company behind brands such as McVitie’s, Go Ahead and Flipz, has launched its 2020 Annual Biscuit Review, which urges retailers to build on lessons learned to propel future growth.

After a bumper year for biscuits, which demonstrated the strongest growth in more than five years – fuelled by shoppers returning to classic ‘biscuit barrel’ products in their droves – pladis predicts the category will touch £3 billion by the end of the year.

“Biscuits had an incredible year amid a tumultuous 2020,” explains Scott Snell, Vice President of Customer at pladis UK & Ireland. “And, while there were certainly winners and losers in this mix, overall, biscuits began to play an increasingly important role in consumers’ lives.

“This category has always been important to shoppers, and biscuits are purchased by virtually all British households (99.5%), but last year we saw more people reacquainting themselves with the category and buying in more frequently to complement an uplift in hot drink moments at home.

“This year’s Review will be an essential resource for retailers large and small as we work together to build on this momentum, continue to drive category growth and look ahead towards the £3 billion mark for the first time.” 

THE PANDEMIC SHOPPER 

The latest pladis Annual Biscuit Review tracks a year like no other for the grocery industry as it was rocked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It won’t shock anyone to learn that the pandemic had a meteoric impact on the way British people shop,” adds Snell.

“In the UK, suppliers and retailers faced challenges aplenty as we hastily adapted in the face of rapidly changing shopper needs – first solidifying supply chains as worried Brits added a few extra items to their trolleys and baskets, then through facilitating the roaring consumer demand for online delivery slots and local shopping via the convenience channel.

“Of course, all these changes marked a significant shift in the way British people shopped for biscuits.”

The Review reveals that while sales of Healthier Biscuits were hit as locked down shoppers turned away from on-the-go formats like breakfast biscuits, value sales in classic subsectors such as Chocolate Biscuit Bars (+11.5%), Everyday Biscuits (+15.1%) and Everyday Treats (+11.9%) grew.

CORE BISCUITS (STILL) MEAN BUSINESS 

This year’s Review also sheds light on how changing shopper behaviour gave bestselling core products in the biscuit category a further boost.

Tending to sit within the booming Chocolate Biscuit Bars, Everyday Biscuits and Everyday Treats sectors, core products like McVitie’s Digestives (+25.6%) and McVitie’s Club (+17.2%) were central to the category’s success in 2020. In fact, the core was responsible for delivering 84% of total category growth as shoppers added an extra packet of the biscuit aisle’s bestsellers to their trolleys.

Within the core, the Top 10 Biscuit Brands grew in importance and significantly outperformed the solid sales success demonstrated the year before (+12.1% in 2020 vs +3.4% in 2019[1]). This meant the Top 10 Biscuit Brands represented £1 of every £5 spent in the category – with seven of the Top 10 recording double-digit value growth. 

“Last year I said the importance the biscuit category’s core range should never be underestimated – and during 2020 we saw just how heavily the category relies on its success,” continues Snell.

“Core biscuit category products – like branded bestsellers – should be central to any retailers’ ranging strategy as these are the products shoppers seek out time and time again.

“In the convenience channel this is particularly important as 80% of biscuit sales come from just 8% of products[2]. It’s crucial all retailers keep the shelves stocked up with these products as we can count on them to sell through and deliver growth.” 

DRIVING GROWTH IN 2021 

The latest pladis Annual Biscuit Review builds on 2020 learnings and trends with an overview of implications for 2021, which retailers should consider for the year ahead.

Throughout 2021 retailers should:

  • Acknowledge ‘savvy shopper’ behaviour

The financial impact of the pandemic will impact different shopper demographics in different ways; however, perception of ‘value for money’ will be key and savvy shopping behaviours will take hold among those most financially impacted.

Action for retailers: Communicate value for money at fixture. 

  • Ensure shoppers can indulge at home

Premium biscuit options will remain relevant for shoppers wanting to treat themselves – these often benefit from a ‘lipstick effect’ as shoppers look to these products as small, permissible indulgences.

Action for retailers: Strengthen range of Special Treats.

  • Focus on driving impulse purchases online

Online shopping boomed during 2020 and this growth is anticipated to continue, driven by older shoppers. Because biscuits are an impulse category, retailers should ensure biscuits aren’t missed off the shopping list.

Action for retailers: Disrupt shoppers’ online journeys with creative executions, and drive interest in the category via NPD. Make impulse categories a greater focus in the convenience channel to drive impulse purchase when online shoppers visit stores.

  • Expect a resurgence of Healthier Biscuits post-lockdown

As lockdown eases and consumers leave their homes more frequently, products like breakfast biscuits should gradually return to growth. Balanced and healthy diets to manage weight will remain top of mind for many consumers.

Action for retailers: Incorporate Healthier Biscuits helping weight management into range in response to returning demand.

  • Use NPD to excite consumers and drive growth

Innovation in the biscuit category is an important driver of growth. What’s more, shoppers who have been stuck at home for the best part of a year will be searching for something new and exciting.

Action for retailers: List NPD, particularly lines from trusted favourites, like McVitie’s.

  • Don’t forget the core

Shoppers turned to trusted brands and bestselling products during 2020 and fell back in love with traditional ‘biscuit barrel’ products which complement a cuppa. With working from home expected to continue for many, the hot drink moment is here to stay. This will maintain momentum for Everyday Biscuits like McVitie’s Rich Tea and Everyday Treats like McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives.

Action for retailers: Focus on the correct space allocation for bestselling branded products. In convenience, retailers should stock the Top 10 biscuit lines as a priority, as 80% of sales come from just 8% of products in this channel. 

  • Prepare for a big Christmas in 2021

Pent up demand for a festive season filled with larger-scale celebrations and friends and family will mean Christmas 2021 is bound to be huge.

Action for retailers: List key gifting and treating Christmas biscuit lines early to take advantage of increased shopper demand.

  • Prepare for changes to rules and regulations

A wide range of products, including biscuits, are likely to be affected by the Government’s intentions to further regulate products that are deemed to have high fat, sugar or salt content (HFSS). This year will be about the preparations for any potential changes in where and how shoppers will buy biscuits as a result.

Action for retailers: Work with manufacturers to identify the changes and their potential impact on the biscuit category. Allocate space to best performing products to avoid out of stocks and bring fixtures to life through in-aisle theatre and engagement. 

GET YOUR COPY NOW

The pladis Annual Biscuit Review includes a performance review of 2020, featuring a timeline of shopper behaviour changes and an overview of key trends which impacted the biscuit category, plus a suggestion of how the pandemic has changed the way people consume biscuits. It also highlights best in class innovation and execution and examines the role of Sweet Biscuits as a ‘profit booster’ for the category.

To request a copy of pladis’ Annual Biscuit Review of 2020, please email csaba.babak@pladisglobal.com

All data Nielsen Total Biscuits Market – 52 we 02.01.2021 and Kantar Total Take Home Grocery Sales – 52 we 27.12.20 unless otherwise stated.

[1] Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 29.12.19

[2] IRI Symbols & Independents 2019

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