Innovation puts biscuits back in growth: report

By Noli Dinkovski contact

- Last updated on GMT

McVitie’s Digestives Thins were the biggest sweet biscuits launch in a decade
McVitie’s Digestives Thins were the biggest sweet biscuits launch in a decade
Biscuits are back in growth following a year of “outstanding” product innovation, a UK-wide category report from McVitie’s owner Pladis has found.

A continued engagement and love for biscuits, coupled with high-profile product launches, meant total category retail sales hit £2.5bn in 2017 – up 2.6% on the year before. That was according to Pladis’ An Innovative Year for Biscuits 2017​ report.

With 42% of consumers claiming health concerns had limited their snacks intake compared with 12 months ago, tapping into individual consumer health and wellbeing needs was vital for the sector’s future health, it added.

Two top launches

Innovation has played a key role within traditional snacking categories for a long time. Last year was no different for biscuits, with McVitie’s Digestives Thins and Oreo Thins two of the top 10 new launches of the year across all fast-moving consumer goods, the report claimed.

McVitie’s Digestives Thins were also the biggest sweet biscuits launch in a decade with sales of £15m in 2017, succeeding McVitie’s Digestives Nibbles, which took top spot in 2016.

Other notable innovations included Nutella B-ready, Cadbury Roundie and from own-label brands, particularly within special treats, according to the report.

The overall core snack food category

The overall core snack food category market was worth £10.6bn in 2017 – up 3.6% on the year before.

All the leading sub-categories grew, with chocolate confectionery worth £2.75bn (up 4.4%), cake and pastries valued at £2bn (up 3.6%), and crisps and snacks also growing to £2bn (up 2.7%).

Cadbury owner Mondelēz remained the leading manufacturer, with sales of £1.3bn and a 12.3% market share. PepsiCo, which makes Walkers crisps, was second with sales of £799m (7.5% market share), followed by Pladis (£705m) in third.

Nearly all the segments within the sweet biscuits category grew last year, with the ‘treats’ segment growing the most rapidly, said James Thomas, customer marketing director at Pladis UK and Ireland.

“Collectively, everyday treats and special treats made up nearly a third of sweet biscuit sales, as consumers turned to biscuits for both indulgence and taste,”​ he explained.

80% of grocery purchasing

Looking to the future, the report predicted that, by 2027, up to 80% of grocery purchasing would be automated. Mirroring this, 57% of UK consumers felt they “will soon be ready”​ to embrace automatic purchasing via connected devices.

Thomas warned that manufacturers would have to pursue new, efficient and experiential ways to engage with consumers.

“Everything we do as a category and as a manufacturer has to be centred on the consumer. Ultimately, they are the ones who will decide what we need to be focusing on. They will tell us what their needs are,”​ he explained.

“Health and wellbeing is no longer a segment – it’s a way of life. So again, it’s about tapping into the relevant needs of each individual consumer for their health and wellbeing needs.

“However, the number-one purchase driver is still taste. Taste will not be compromised, and that’s where we’re very lucky with biscuits as a category.”

Related topics: NPD, Bakery

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