Sweet treats are made of this… Biscuits and cakes generating sales and profits round the clock

As our lives get busier and busier, what better way could there be to cheer ourselves up than with biscuits and cakes?They’re affordable for every pocket; they can be eaten anywhere, at any time; they don’t damage your health; and all the family can enjoy them. It adds up to a winning product category for independent retailers and foodservice outlets alike, and solid sellers for the wholesalers supplying them. Here’s a selective overview of what’s on offer.

Sweet biscuits

The UK biscuit market is currently worth £3.5bn and growing +4.5% annually, presenting wholesalers, retailers and foodservice outlets too with a wealth of opportunities to grow their sales. The market is going through an exciting period at present, with a shift in working habits and consumer demand for innovation impacting on category growth.

Mandy Bobrowski is UK & Ireland Marketing Director for Burton’s Biscuit Company, which produces some of Britain’s best-loved biscuit brands, including Maryland, Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels:

“Biscuits still remain a treat, offering a reward, an opportunity to indulge and a great snack for sharing, but as people’s lives become busier, more and more shoppers are seeking out products that offer flexibility and can be enjoyed at home, work, or on the move. Shoppers are also looking to make balanced choices with ‘healthier’ options, via portion control, or with reduced sugar or free-from options, and manufacturers are reacting to these trends. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a raft of NPD from brands looking to tap into shopper demand and key trends including ‘thin’ varieties of bestselling biscuits, reduced sugar options and grab bags to cater to shoppers on the move.”

Staying with sweet biscuits, Image on Food Ltd have launched two new product lines, Original Biscuit Bakers’ Mini Gingerbread Men and Snack sized Billington’s Gingerbread, developed to appeal to the food service and catering sectors. They are bite sized and are the perfect fit as a complimentary snack, or treat, to accompany a wide range of different food and drink offerings within the food service industry.

Active Nutrition and healthy snacking Grenade, the leading Active Nutrition and protein brand has expanded their portfolio of low sugar, high protein snacks to include a new ‘party trick’, the Birthday Cake Carb Killa bar. Founded in 2010 with an initial focus on high performance sports nutrition products, Grenade has become the No.1 bestselling brand in Active Nutrition and Healthy Snacking. Grenade Carb Killa bars have become the best-selling protein bar on the market, outselling competitors by 45%.

Indulgent adult snacking Lovers of indulgent adult snacks are the key audience for Thomas Fudge’s recent packaging rebrand. Incidentally the artisan baker, which makes indulgent sweet and savoury biscuits, is also entering the flatbread category with the launch of three seriously moreish flavours, Cheddar & Shallot, Chickpea & Sesame and Tomato & Red Chilli.

Staying Healthy

Mondelez’s Ritz Original cracker, the number one best-selling savoury biscuit, now has a new recipe with 70% less saturated fat. The brand’s vision is to offer consumers more choice in their savoury snacks. Mondelez say when it comes to snacks, 46% of occasions are chosen for health, and 85% of consumers claim they are trying to improve part of their diet to become healthier. Mondelez International is committed to reducing saturated fat by 10% across its business by 2020.

Biscuits on the Go

Suzie Carlaw, Marketing Manager at Border Biscuits says On-the-go is a critically important driver of biscuit purchases:

“Consumers are increasingly looking for convenient snacking products and smaller pack formats that are easy to carry on the move, eat in the car or that can be popped in to a lunchbox or handbag. Consumers are grazing more and seeking something to nibble between meals. With the rise in health consciousness, they are also looking for bite-size products which aid portion control, like mini-packs such as our Border Snack Packs, which offer an ideal option for snacking on the move.

A piece of cake

Packaged small cakes continue to be a focus for marketing development and NPD, and there’s always room for more. Taking just two examples in retail, Pladis has introduced four new cakes in its seasonal range, McVitie’s Merry Moments Double Choccy Crunch, McVitie’s Merry Moments Mint Chocolate Crunch, McVitie’s Penguin Merry Berry cake bars, and McVitie’s Penguin Merry Mint cake bars.

Our second example, The Cake Crew, the UK’s largest independent baker of cupcakes, has announced its launch into Ocado and Costco, marking the brand’s first national listings and a key milestone in its development. All the products in the Cake Crew’s range are made with natural ingredients and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. 11 products in the range have Vegetarian Society Accreditation.

Wholesalers are increasingly widening their reach to cover both retail and foodservice customers, and cakes and sweet bakery products in general are an obvious area of opportunity across the board

Jane Deegan, Marketing Manager at Kara, shares her insight into what consumers look for when it comes to sweet bakery items:

“Sweet bakery items’ popularity remains strong, with 45% of snack occasions being sweet bakery treats. Cake slices have grown in popularity since last year, especially at lunch, making up 3.2% of all bakery occasions. Growth is driven by consumers aged 25- 49, looking to purchase individual cake slices at get-togethers or as a treat. Stuart New is Head of Bakery at Rich Products, another leading supplier of sweet bakery products to wholesalers. He told us:

“Consumers are increasingly conscious of what they are eating and don’t want to ‘waste’ a treat on a product that isn’t up to scratch. When they indulge, they want their treat to be – in the words of Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith – ‘worth the calories.’ Hence we are seeing premium bakery come to the fore as consumers look for an indulgent treat that warrants the calories.”

More than half of sweet bakery sales are consumed as snacks, with people buying on impulse, so sweet bakery needs to work even harder to appeal to consumers with, for example, more visible inclusions, more indulgent toppings and finishes. It’s important they appeal to a female audience too, with 59% of sweet bakery snacks being bought by women.”

“It’s all about offering consumers what they want – wholesalers must ensure they have a great core range with bankable flavour profiles that offer something more in terms of value for money – better ingredients, more inclusions, and toppings and fillings that make the products worth the money and the calories.”

And finally, Cake, the Glasgow-based bakery owned by wholesaler Lomond – The Wholesale Food Co, has launched a range of triple-layer cocktail-themed cakes, inspired by classic cocktail combinations, which is proving to be a runaway success. Despite the name, Cake’s cocktail range is completely alcohol free and made with 100% natural flavourings. All the cakes are made by hand using free-range eggs and packaged in 100% recyclable packaging. Flavours include Strawberry Bellini, White Russian, Blueberry Mojito and Gin, Lemon & Lime. The cakes are available frozen and pre-portioned into slices to reduce wastage. Cheers!