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Burton’s Biscuits invests £13.5M to meet biscuit demand

By Lorraine Mullaney , 16-Apr-2013
Last updated on 16-Apr-2013 at 15:33 GMT

Burton’s Biscuit Company is investing £13.5M in its manufacturing operations to enhance production, support new product development, and meet growing demand for its biscuits.

The company – which produces iconic brands such as Wagon Wheels, Maryland Cookies, Dodgers and Cadbury biscuits (produced under licence) – invested £12.5M in its supply chain in 2012.

This second year of significant investment is helping to drive continued growth for the firm, claimed the firm. It reported increasing international sales and a record market share of the domestic sweet biscuit market.

To help meet this demand, new technology will be introduced across all sites.

The company’s facility in Llantarnam, Wales, will pilot new control room technology, which will monitor the production process in real time. The technology will be rolled out to Burton’s other facilities throughout the year.

Other investment initiatives will focus on automation and packaging technology. The investment will further improve efficiency and provide additional capacity for the new products and formats that will be rolling off Burton’s production lines in 2013. 

Changing market dynamics

Burton’s Biscuit Company’s chief supply chain officer Neil Grocock said: “Continued investment in our supply chain and manufacturing capabilities is central to Burton’s vision for being a brand-focused business, able to swiftly respond to changing market dynamics and bring new products to market quicker than any other company in the biscuit market.”

The £13.5M is being invested across Burton’s facilities in Llantarnam, Blackpool and Edinburgh.

The company said the investment would not have a significant impact on jobs, and any impact would only be felt through natural churn.

Last week Hill Biscuits announced that it had secured an investment of £276,000 from the Manchester Investment Fund to expand its business and create more than 45 jobs.

Hill Biscuits’ md Steven Wetherby told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Everyday biscuits are a growing market because people have less disposable income.”

Biscuits are a growing market

His comments are backed by Mintel, which expects the sector to grow by 21% to reach £1.7bn by 2016. Research from the market research company suggests that biscuits’ total retail value sales have climbed by 26% since 2006 to reach £1.4bn in 2011.

It’s the appeal of everyday biscuits, or plain biscuits, such as digestives, that have boosted the fortunes of the market, with sales value up 14% in just one year (2010–11).

Younger consumers have the biggest appetite for traditional British biscuits such as Bourbon and Custard Cream, with six in 10 disagreeing that traditional biscuits are boring, compared with 55% of the over 55s.

Alex Beckett, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, said: “They may lack TV support or big-name brands, but the humble Bourbon, Malted Milk and Custard Cream are cherished by teens and students.

“Maybe the lack of try-hard advertising appeals to them – or maybe these biscuits are just better value than the increasingly chocolate-laden new launches. Either way, the youth of austerity Britain has respect for our biscuit heritage.”

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