Fight for savoury biscuit category share begins

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Biscuit, Investment

United Biscuits reaffirmed plans to take the savoury category
United Biscuits reaffirmed plans to take the savoury category
Biscuit heavyweight United Biscuits (UB) has reaffirmed plans to grow its UK savoury biscuit retail sales value by 20%, challenging competitor Burton’s Biscuits Company’s announcement it would storm the category.

Jon Eggleton, UB md, said there was an opportunity for an industry leader to grow the savoury category in the UK beyond the 18% market share it currently held.

“Our goal is ultimately to make savoury baked snacks more mainstream and position them as a more desirable option for consumers than alternative snacks,” ​Eggleton told

£3.5M investment

The company announced a £3.5M investment in its plants at Aintree, near Liverpool, and Harlesden in north west London earlier this year​, to facilitate plans to grow its savoury products under the Jacob’s brand.

“Overall, Jacob’s currently has 30% share of the savoury category in the UK, but under the new masterbrand it is our ambition to grow this. We aim to increase the brand's retail sales value by 20% over the next two and a half years.”

Stuart Wilson, Burton’s chief commercial officer, told last week​ that the company was planning to invest £15M across its factories to equip it to grow its share of the market.

17% of convenience savoury market

Burton’s investments would follow the launch of its Cathedral City Baked Bites line and the re-launch of its 1980s classic Burton’s Fish and Chips, which jointly took 17% of the convenience savoury snack market in just six months.

“Company-wide, on the supply side, we’ve made £40M of investments in the last three years,” ​said Wilson.

“There will be a lot more investment in factories and lines and I would fully imagine that we would carry on spending at or above the rates we’ve been spending to date,” ​he said.

Both companies recognised the significant difference between sweet and savoury market share in the UK, compared to other countries.

Significant difference

“Currently around 18% of all biscuits eaten in the UK are savoury, compared with around 45% in America and 40% in Australia, where savoury biscuits are more commonly eaten with cheese,” ​said Eggleton.

UB has backed its commitment to savoury snacks with a £10M ‘Snack Happy’​ Jacob’s marketing campaign, featuring comedian Jason Cook as Jacob the Baker.

Earlier this year UB’s chief executive Martin Glenn​ announced plans to boost the company’s global presence to become the “Cadbury” ​or “Kellogg” ​of the snack world by pulling its sweet biscuit brands under its McVitie’s label.

In an exclusive podcast​ Eggleton also announced UB’s £50M capital investment plans in UK operations to give the business more capacity and packaging capabilities.

Savoury biscuit facts:

  • 18% of all biscuits eaten in the UK are savoury
  • 45% of all biscuits eaten in America are savoury
  • 40% of all biscuits eaten in Australia are savoury
  • UK savoury biscuit consumption has doubled in 15 years

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