The biscuit breakdown - Macphie insight

by Imogen Sherrit

The average Brit consumes 7kg of biscuits a year.

That is a lot of biscuit and demand is growing, with a 1.2% increase in sales over the last year.

In fact, the combined sweet and savoury biscuit market in the UK is predicted to be worth around £3billion by 2022.

Crumbs of comfort

Biscuits are well-established as a beloved comfort food, with four in 10 consumers seeing them as reliable and comforting.

A third of consumers will always purchase their favourite biscuits, which may seem to put the brakes on biscuit innovation slightly as only 27% confess to buying a variety of biscuits.

This means new product development is likely to be more successful if it is an extension of a current range, such as the McVitie’s Thins range which last year added a Hobnob variant.

The sweet spot

It’s not a runaway success for biscuit brands however.

Savoury biscuit volumes have fallen by 3% over the past year as the category loses ground to other snack options.

There is hope on the horizon as year-on-year growth in “healthier” biscuits is 4.5% and they now hold over a fifth of the total value share of the market

This is not a trend that is going away as consumers become more health conscious.

Fibre is high on the consumer agenda, with one in five saying this is important when buying savoury, and 28% are interested in savoury biscuits that support gut health.

For sweet biscuits, 37% of consumers are interested in more healthy ingredients, such as fruit pieces and oats, while 25% would like to see more wholegrain versions.

Clean bill of health?

Brands with a gluten-free offering have bucked the category trend, enjoying both value and volume growth.

Oatcake brand Nairn’s for example has a gluten free range, while tapping into gut health with its digital “Good Gut Feeling” campaign.

Alternative grains such as spelt, sorghum and amaranth are also being explored by brands in the category.

Biscuits may not be the most intuitive post-workout fuel, but recent product development has seen a profusion of new protein-enriched cookies from brands such as Grenade, Fuel10k, Boost Ball, and Arla’s Whey-Pro biscuits.

One in four consumers want to see biscuits and cookies that are high in protein, signalling opportunity for growth here.

Innovations have included pea protein crispbreads, as well as other beans and pulses, which having sparked interest in 40% of consumers.

What’s next?

With targets for sugar reduction already a focus (the stated aim being 20% by 2020), next on the agenda is reduced calorie formulations, with a proposed 20% reduction by 2024.

Low calorie sweet biscuits are of interest to nearly a third of consumers, reducing the “guilt factor’” in the seven in 10 consumers who limit their sweet biscuit intake.

This could also help win favour with parents, as Public Health England urge them to give their children a maximum of two 100-calorie snacks per day.

Savoury biscuits should do well here, and portion-controlled packs with flavoured variants will doubtless also be explored.

Sources: The Grocer | British Baker | Mintel | Food Spark