Taking the biscuit

The words ‘economic climate’ seem to have seeped their way into every aspect of our daily lives, causing almost everyone to check their spending. However, consumers are also looking to offer themselves a little treat and a slice of cake or a biscuit with tea provides an affordable way to do this.



== Biscuits ==


Jon Dance, marketing manager of Bahlsen, says: “We have seen further volume growth for the total biscuit market in 2008 proving that the category is more buoyant. Bahlsen had its third consecutive record year in 2008, despite the current economic climate, where we achieved a 20% increase in turnover.”

Bahlsen has invested £1.5m in the brand and is running national TV and press advertising. A particular focus of which is Choco Leibniz, the brand’s flagship biscuit product.

Dance adds: “A definite trend within the sector is that while consumers are becoming more frugal, they are still indulging in affordable treats such as biscuits. We recently held some research focus groups which very much supported the view that consumers still see the little luxuries such as biscuits as ‘non-negotiable treats’ and a way of indulging in that all-important me time. Consumers are looking for more and more new ways to relax, and the little indulgencies such as a packet of their favourite biscuits with a cup of tea and a catch up with friends provide the perfect solution.

“The wholesale channel is our heartland in effect, where we started out. This area is growing at a greater rate than our multiple business with it currently equating to almost 20% of our total branded Features > Business, which is a significant proportion. Wholesalers are generally very good at holding the right range of products, and giving sufficient depot bay space in cash and carries to feature the products sufficiently in order to maximise depot sales.”

Graham Walker, trade communications manager of Nestlé UK, says: “The biscuit category is worth £2.1bn and the chocolate biscuit bar segment accounts for £363m in sales and is growing at 4%. Nestlé Confectionery leads the market with a 39% value share. Performing especially well in the independent sector is Blue Riband, where sales are up 24% and Breakaway where sales are up 29% in value sales alone.”

Nestlé has also re-launched Blue Riband, Breakaway, Toffee Crisp and Drifter chocolate biscuit bars and they now contain 99 calories.

Walker adds: “KitKat has performed exceptionally well over the last year. KitKat 2 finger six pack is the number one priority line for independents. Within cash and carries it should be displayed prominently on the fixture to act at a beacon brand to retailers in order to signpost the chocolate biscuit bars range.”

Nick Stuart, commercial manager of UBUK, says: “The current economic climate has meant that consumers are increasingly careful about where their money is spent, but typically, biscuits are one of the last areas that people look to cut back on, as they are seen as a relatively inexpensive treat. Given the fact that people are potentially more likely to stay in and treat themselves, rather than eat out in restaurants, the number of formal occasions are decreasing and the snacking occasion is becoming even more relevant.

“The wholesale channel is a primary route to market for United Biscuits, allowing its products to reach independent retailers, making it an essential channel for communication and sales of our products. With the total impulse biscuits market accounting for £195m in sales, it is crucial that we communicate with wholesalers to find out what they need and respond accordingly to ensure the best sales possible.”

UBUK has recently been offering consumers the chance to win a trip to New York, Cuba or Turkey with go ahead. It also launched a seasonal Strawberry Jaffa Cake variant in May

David Astles, marketing manager at BakeMark UK, says: “The UK cookie market is currently worth an impressive £36.2m, with £4.5m added to the category in the last two years as a result of the products rising popularity.

“Sales of cookies are clearly soaring and now is the ideal time to take advantage of this trend.”

BakeMark has several licensed cookie ranges, including Nestlé Quality Street Mint Matchmaker, Smarties, Rolo, Yorkie and Toffee Crisp and the Kraft Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Toblerone.

Astles says: “Licensed cookies closely contend with the popularity of traditional cookies, with customers looking for treats with added-value to purchase alongside their staple favourites. This area has shown a total growth of 7.5% in the last 12 months, which was driven by an 8.3% rise in packs purchased per trip, adding £500,000 to the category.”

BakeMark UK has also developed its Thaw Serve Premium Cookies in Triple Chocolate and Milk Chocolate. They are available in packs of 48, allowing the end users to defrost the amount of cookies needed, cutting down on wastage.

Kraft Foods UK has introduced, Mikado a biscuit snack designed for on-the-go consumers. The thin, crunchy biscuit sticks are covered in milk chocolate with the end left uncoated.

Jack Pipe, convenience sales customer director at Kraft Foods UK, says: “Mikado is helping biscuits to break out of the biscuit tin and into on-the-go snacking market. There is nothing like it on the shelves at the moment in the UK, and it’s likely to generate a great deal of excitement among customers.

Kraft has also introduced a 154g roll pack for its Oreos range, containing 14 biscuits. According to Kraft, since the launch of Oreo in the UK in March 2008 public data shows one in six UK households purchased Oreo in its first year and this generated retail sales of almost £17m.

Sue Garfitt, head of insights, category and marketing planning at Burton’s Foods, says: “The biscuit category is doing well, and proving to be resilient even when the economy is facing a recession. In fact it is precisely in these tough times that consumers indulge in little treats more often to cheer themselves up. We’ve seen the proof in our sales, with Maryland Cookies, for example, seeing a rise of 5.7% in terms of volume sales.”

Burton’s Foods has recently added golden syrup to Maryland Cookies.

Garfitt adds: “Convenience is a key area of product growth in the category, and is the reason for over one third of all food consumption. There are 6.5 billion biscuit consumption occasions, and with one third of these being out of the home ‘on the go’ portion controlled packs are in particular demand.”

This year Burtons has introduced two new varieties to the Cadbury Brunch brand, BrunchBreaks and BrunchBakes, a combination of wholegrain, nuts, seeds and Cadbury chocolate.

Burton’s also ran a partnership with Comic Relief and Jammie Dodgers for Red Nose Day and this summer Wagon Wheels will team up with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), offering a range of prizes from a WWE superstar visit to a child’s school, to WWE Top Trumps cards.

Garfitt adds: “We are committed to ensuring that the wholesale channel receives the attention from Burton’s that it needs. Our products continue to perform well in the channel, and in 2008 we saw a year on year growth of 20% in wholesale alone.”

Mike Driver, marketing director for Fox’s, says: “Fox’s aims to become synonymous with the special treat biscuit category by bringing a better class of biscuit to its consumers. With five of its brands in the top 10 branded special treats category, Fox’s is currently leading the £121m category, commanding a 16.7% share of the market and growing significantly ahead of the category.”

Fox’s has recently launched Fox’s Chunkie Extremely Chocolatey Fruit amp; Nut Cookie and will be continuing its Vinnie the panda adverts in 2009.

Although Fox’s partnership with Jenks has now ended, the partnership that was announced in May 2008 between the two companies recognised the importance of the delivered wholesale and cash and carry channels to Fox’s future business development. This channel represents some 25% of Fox’s business and had been identified as a key pillar for growth.



== Cakes and Desserts ==


Alveston Kitchens was integrated into Heinz Foodservice last year and Heinz says growing the brand forms part of the company’s long-term strategy.

Alveston Kitchens has a range of 49 frozen desserts including, gateaux, cheesecakes, trifles, meringues, apple pies and speciality trifles and profiteroles.

Emily Frank, brand manager for Alveston Kitchens, says: “With the onslaught of the recession, wholesalers may be wondering if investing in desserts is the way to go, but Mintel actually predicts consumers may well turn to indulgences such as dessert as an alternative to expensive retail therapy or other entertainment.

“Perhaps the only hurdle is convincing sceptical caterers that there are now ready-made, frozen alternatives on offer which are far better quality. They also might need reminding that freezing enables manufacturers to use more ‘natural’ ingredients, reducing the need for preservatives – a key concern of today’s consumers. Frozen desserts also offer convenience is storage and rapid defrost times.”

Andy Foweather, sales director of General Mills, says: “Baking mixes is benefiting from a revival as more and more consumers cook and bake at home. Baking mixes is worth £58.8m (up 6.6% year-on-year) and a substantial proportion of this figure is very much up for grabs for wholesalers and independents. We believe that suppliers and wholesalers can work together to encourage independent retailers to get their range right and to make the most of the major financial rewards on offer.

“The wholesale channel is an integral part of the General Mills UK business across all of our brands. While some lend themselves more naturally than others, it is clear that Betty Crocker is a brand with potential in the channel – the last 52-week period showed a 40% increase in sales in the convenience channel. As such, it is important that wholesalers take advantage of the brand’s marketing and promotional support to maximise sales.”

According to General Mills, Betty Crocker is now a £10.7m brand, which is growing at 50% year on year

Ed Culf, marketing director for General Mills, says: “There is a growing sense of nostalgia as shoppers reach for brands that they know and trust. Betty Crocker products are easy to use and encourage parents to spend quality time baking with their children.”

Premier Foods has redeveloped its Delightful Mr Kipling range. The Delightful cakes range aims to offer a more motivating diet proposition, with each slice containing less that 80 calories and no more than 1g of saturated fat.

For the summer, Premier is launching a range of strawberry cakes, Strawberry Slices and Strawberry French Fancies.

Matt Hunt, head of cake at Premier Foods, says: “We’re delighted to be launching Strawberry Slices and Strawberry French Fancies. They will appeal to existing cake buyers and bring new consumers in.”

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