Let them eat cake

There are a range of healthier options in the cakes and biscuits market, while they also remain a treat that consumers are happy to indulge in. If they are making the choice to treat themselves less, they want it to be a good treat when they get it.


Mintel reports that the large family cake has been squeezed out by smaller bite-size cakes. Sales of full-size cakes have remained stagnant at around pound;334m for the last five years, while sales of small cakes grew by 28% between 2003 and 2007 to pound;767m. Consumers now spend over twice as much on these individual cakes as they do on large cakes, compared with just one and half times back in 2003.

Harry Foster, senior consumer analyst at Mintel, says: “While cakes have long been an everyday teatime favourite, today smaller cupcakes or slices are proving ever more popular. Brits are giving the tradition of afternoon tea a new twist by making it a much quicker, healthier occasion. These small varieties are considered the better option, as there is not the same temptation of going back for seconds as there is with a large cake and they can also be eaten on the go.”

According to Premier Foods, Mr Kipling is a pound;167m cake brand. Rachel Pirt, senior brand manger of Mr Kipling, says: “The ambient cake category continues to show consistent growth – now worth pound;1bn at +3.6%. Mr Kipling is currently growing ahead of the market +7.1% year-on-year and our new Cake Bites are integral to continuing this.

“Cake is no longer about just sitting down with a cup of tea. Consumers are now enjoying more informal occasions in and out of home and have even less time for them. They want cakes to be worth it – visually appealing and yummy – which is exactly what Mr Kipling Cake Bites achieve.”

The individually wrapped Bites are available in tubs with 15 Bites in Caramel, Lemon and Strawberry Vanilla flavours.

The packaging across the range was also redeveloped in June. Pirt continues: “The range redesign and new TV campaign will ensure the popular brand continues to be relevant to today’s consumers and further add value to the category for retailers.”

Bakery product provider Rich’s has launched a new muffin range for retailers and foodservice.

Gail Lindsay, marketing manager for Rich’s, says: “Rich’s new muffin range has been developed to provide the highest quality, luxury muffins in answer to growing consumer demand for premium, indulgent products, made with quality ingredients. Growth in these products has overtaken health this year and the value of the muffin sector is increasing as people are willing to pay more for premium luxury treats.”

Rich’s says it generates annual sales in excess of $2.6bn because its products have visual appeal and flavour that drive initial and repeat purchases.

Mark Sheath, product development manager at Kate’s Cakes, says: “People are still treating themselves to indulgent cakes. What has changed is a greater interest in health and wellbeing. One resulting trend is an increase in demand for free-from products, both from people suffering food intolerances or allergies, and others simply wishing to eliminate certain products from their diet. Kate’s Cakes has responded to this by creating the You Can label, a range of seven gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and low-fat loaf slices.”

Heinz has improved its current sponge pudding recipes and made them available in microwaveable single serve portions.

Christina Hongifort, brand manager of Heinz Desserts, says: “There is a great deal of nostalgia among British consumers for traditional, hearty and great tasting puddings such as treacle sponge.

“Heinz is using its trusted name and loyal following to breathe new life into ambient desserts with the Taste of Home range, which responds to consumers’ appetite for Great British classics.”

According to Heinz, the ambient desserts category is worth 0 pound;380m and is bought by almost the entire country, 93%.


In May last year Mintel reported that sales of sweet biscuits stood at pound;1,462m in 2006, having achieved 2.2% growth on the previous year against a prevailing trend of healthy eating. Over the 2002-2007 period, value growth has outstripped that of volume, signalling consumers’ light consumption habits but willingness to trade up to more expensive and indulgent products.

Neil Gibson, marketing manager of Fox’s, says: “The UK biscuit market is currently worth pound;1.95bn and while the snacking category as a whole continues to grow, biscuit category penetration among UK households has stayed relatively static over the last year. Currently sweet biscuits constitute 70% of the biscuit market and are showing an impressive 4% growth year on year.

“Fox’s biscuits has been developing and baking biscuits for over 150 years and we work hard to adapt and update our products to react to market change by introducing new, quality products that will answer consumer demands.”

Fox’s has launched Dunked, Lemon Crunch Creams, Whipped Creams and redesigned the packaging for its indulgence brand Echo.

The Fox’s Whipped Creams biscuits are available in Sinfully Strawberry Conserve and Lustfully Lemon Curd, both shortcake biscuits with cream and a hint of jam.

Andrew MacDonald, director of sales and marketing for Jenks Sales Brokers, says: “The recent partnership announced between Fox’s and Jenks recognises the importance of the delivered wholesale and cash and carry channels to Fox’s future business development. The channel represents some 25% of Fox’s business and has been identified as a key pillar for growth.

“The immediate priority is to ensure the core range of Fox’s products, tailored to the wholesale channel, is stocked by all key accounts and to significantly increase the focus and resource on this key sector at national, regional and local level.”

According to United Biscuits UK its biscuits range is responsible for more than 30% of total UK biscuit sales.

UBUK says it has been following the major trends of healthier, making life easier and pleasure.

Nick Stuart, commercial manager of UBUK, says: “When developing new ranges of biscuits and cakes, UBUK uses these key trends to ensure it is supplying retailers with the products that satisfy the demands of their consumers. We have continued to see huge growth in healthier alternatives, biscuits and cakes that are in convenient formats for the desired eating occasion, and products which are eaten for the great taste and flavours that they offer.”

In February the Digestives range was relaunched, Stuart adds: “McVitie’s Digestives are an iconic brand that everybody in the UK can associate with, but it is still important that the packaging is kept relevant and modern. Redesigning and supporting the Digestives range will ensure the McVitie’s brand remains fresh to the consumer and offers the grocery and impulse sectors a great opportunity to make the product stand out to their customers and therefore maximise sales and profit opportunities.”

UBUK also introduced McVitie’s Yumbles, its first dedicated range of organic biscuits.

James Dixon, senior category manager at Burton’s Foods, says: “There is a growing trend of consumers looking for naturally healthy products. Indeed, two thirds of consumers are increasingly seeking ways to be naturally healthy but also want to try new things and experience new sensations.”

Last year Burton’s launched its Green Black’s Cereal Bars and this year launched Jammie Dodgers Snack Bars and Maryland Munch Bars.

Dixon adds: “Convenience accounts for 39% of all biscuit eating occasions. We understand this consumer requirement and offer a variety of products, which are firm favourites with convenience shoppers. Burton’s has a 9% share of the biscuits segment within the convenience sector and 15% of our branded biscuit sales are through convenience stores.

“Due to a vast variety of biscuits available, it can be tempting for some retailers to try and cram as many products as they can onto the shelf at the expense of offering genuine choice. The key is to ensure stores are stocking a balanced range that isn’t centred around everyday biscuits but does encompass everyday.”

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