Pladis report: biscuit sales hit nearly £3bn in 2020

By Jerome Smail

- Last updated on GMT

Top ten UK biscuit brands named as 2020 sales near £3bn

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Biscuits enjoyed a ‘bumper year’ in 2020, with sales up 7.2% on 2019’s figure to reach £2.96bn, fuelled by demand for traditional biscuit barrels according to an industry report.

The Annual Biscuit Review 2020, compiled by McVitie’s owner Pladis, found performance in the category increased by £212m on the previous 12 months. That represented the strongest growth for biscuits in more than five years.

Pladis, whose snack brands also include Jacob’s, Go Ahead, Carr’s and BN, has predicted the category’s value could reach £3bn by the end of 2021.

“Biscuits had an incredible year amid a tumultuous 2020,”​ said Scott Snell, vice president of customer at Pladis UK & Ireland. “And, while there were certainly winners and losers in this mix, overall, biscuits began to play an increasingly important role in consumers’ lives.”

Return to the biscuit barrel

The company said the boost in sales was driven by shoppers returning to classic biscuit barrel products ‘in their droves’.

“This category has always been important to shoppers, and biscuits are purchased by 99.5% of British households, but last year we saw more people reacquainting themselves with the category and buying in more frequently to complement an uplift in hot drink moments at home,”​ Snell said.

“It won’t shock anyone to learn that the pandemic had a meteoric impact on the way British people shop,”​ he added.

Top-selling brands

The top ten biscuit brands by sales in 2020 were as follows, with all but two – significantly both in the ‘healthier biscuits’ subcategory – seeing year-on-year growth:

  1. McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives (Pladis) +20.5%
  2. KitKat (Nestle Rowntree) +21.4%
  3. McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes (Pladis) +4.9%
  4. McVitie’s Digestives (Pladis) +25.6%
  5. Oreo Cookies (Mondelez) +23.1%
  6. McVitie’s Rich Tea (Pladis) +16.8
  7. Belvita Breakfast Soft Bakes (Mondelez) -15.3%
  8. McVitie’s Club (Pladis) +17.2%
  9. McVitie’s Chocolate Hobnobs (Pladis) +18.2%
  10. Nakd Bar (Lotus Bakeries) -21.7%

As a group, the top ten brands increased in importance in 2020 and significantly outperformed sales growth from the year before, up 12.1% compared with the 3.4% rise in 2019, according to Kantar figures. This meant the top ten biscuit brands represented £1 of every £5 spent in the category in 2020.

“Last year I said the importance the biscuit category’s core range should never be underestimated and during 2020 we saw just how heavily the category relies on its success,”​ said Snell.

Biscuit occasions

In 2020 there were 648 million more consumer biscuit occasions compared with 2019, according to the report. The greatest increase was in the morning snack category, with 104 million more occasions. While 91 million more lunches featured crackers and crispbreads, carried-out lunch occasions featured 28% fewer sweet biscuits.

The biggest anomaly in a year of growth for biscuits was Christmas, as shoppers held off buying treats while awaiting clarity on pandemic regulations. There was an 8% year-on-year decline in sales of seasonal assortments due to fewer social occasions and gifting opportunities.

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