Shoppers are choosing a little of what they fancy when it comes to cakes and biscuits, despite the increase in healthy and free-from lines.

There’s no denying the growing demand for healthy options when it comes to snacks. But if you thought that meant cakes’ and biscuits’ days were numbered, you may need to think again.

Biscuits and cakes remain frequently purchased snacking staples for c-store retailers. In fact, biscuits alone are growing within the convenience sector at four times the rate of the total market (Kantar, May 2018).

And the effect on retailers like Roy Taylor, co-owner at Taylors of Tickhill, near Doncaster, in South Yorkshire, is most welcome.

He reports that when consumers do stock up for an afternoon tea or sweet treat, they are more often splashing out on local lines with a higher price point.

Roy says: “Most of our cakes and biscuits come directly from Nisa, but our local range, from a speciality shop called Deli 28, performs really well even though it is a bit dearer than the other more traditional brands.

“We get two deliveries from them every week and people like the products because they aren’t available elsewhere.”

James Stead, manager of Spar Calver, Hope Valley, in Derbyshire, has noticed similar trends in his store, with customers treating themselves to more premium lines.

He reports that these types of products allow shoppers to escape from their normally healthy diets and enjoy a little of what they fancy.

“Sweet biscuits are always good when you want a treat,” says James, “and they make a nice present for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, so we’re expecting to sell even more next month.

“The larger tins of McVitie’s and those from Borders are usually priced at about £5 so offer good value and are a bit more special than the regular packs.”

The Spar Calver team are stocking up ahead of the spring gifting season. James explains: “You have to make the most of every season so we will definitely have things such as Easter cupcakes and limited-edition biscuits in stock so we can boost sales. Once January is out the way, people usually go back to buying some of the more indulgent lines.”

Killa Instinct

Grenade is to add a biscuit snack to its protein portfolio later this year. The Carb Killa Biscuit will be available as a two-pack, in double chocolate or salted caramel flavours. Each biscuit contains 109 calories, 6g of protein and 0.8g of sugar (rrp £2.50).


Caroline Mitchell, brand controller for Mrs Crimble’s at Wessanen UK, believes cakes and biscuits work well as an occasional treat. She says: “Cake is a treat purchase and is often bought by those who are happy to indulge every now and again. The majority of our Mrs Crimble’s cakes are bought by women, particularly in the 30-44 age group, who choose to shop in the category either for a snack to eat on the move, or one to keep in the cupboard and share with others.”

Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International, agrees that more consumers are now treating themselves with premium biscuits, which is good news for retailers.

She says: “In recent years there has been a trend for switching and trading up from everyday biscuits to more premium treats. As a result, the special treat sub-segment has seen 12% growth (Nielsen MAT w/e 25 August 2018).”

Suzie Carlaw, marketing manager at Border Biscuits, also sees this trend as a positive. She says: “Shoppers have a higher average spend on biscuits than sweets, crisps or chocolates. The biscuit shopper tends to spend longer in the store than non-biscuit shoppers. All of this gives you a real reason to stock great quality biscuits and give them prominent space within store.”

Barbara Clements, owner of Spar Preston in Weymouth, Dorset, has certainly noticed her shoppers looking to trade up within the cake category at her store.

As well as offering the usual packaged favourites, Barbara also stocks a selection of fresh cream cakes and homemade slices. She says: “Our fresh cakes are really popular with our customers and offer them something a bit fancy and a bit different from what they would normally get from other stores.

“In fact, we used to have one guy who would travel all the way from Bristol to buy one of our cream slices. I suppose that shows how far people will go for a nice bit of cake!”

Pladis adds Jaffa Cakes Nibbles to McVitie’s biscuit line-up

Pladis has extended its Jaffa Cakes biscuit portfolio into new territory with Jaffa Cakes Nibbles.

Available from this month, the new product contains a zesty orange centre and light sponge, coated in milk and dark chocolate.

Two sizes of packs are available, designed for sharing or on-the-go consumption, aimed at capturing shoppers seeking a sweet treat at any time of the day.

Emma Stowers, brand director for McVitie’s at Pladis UK&I, says: “Jaffa Cakes Nibbles will enable consumers to enjoy the much-loved snack like never before. This new and exciting concept is a total game-changer for the brand and Jaffa Cakes fans alike.”

She adds: “We know the UK loves Jaffa Cakes, with more than one billion being eaten every year (Pladis, sales out data), and we’re confident that the new format will appeal to a new generation of Jaffa Cakes Nibblers and help to unlock new consumption moments.”

The launch of the new Nibbles follows Pladis’ introduction of a new look for the Jaffa Cakes portfolio. An updated pack design aims to refresh and modernise the brand.

McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes Nibbles are available in a 100g sharing pouch, as well as a 39g on-the-go handy pack (rrp £1.50 and 69p respectively).

Both packs are recyclable through Pladis’ partnership with Terracycle.


Healthy options

While most suppliers agree that treat biscuits are key to driving category growth, Nash believes retailers should dedicate equal amounts of space to better-for-you biscuits.

She says: “Research shows that the health-conscious consumer is on the rise, with 85% of consumers admitting they are trying to improve some of their diet to become healthier (IGD British Grocery Shoppers April 2017).”

Roy believes the popularity of savoury and healthier biscuits will continue to grow as he says more of his shoppers are becoming concerned about their diet.

He says: “The savoury biscuits are good because they offer shoppers a more nutritious snack, which is what they want nowadays. Many are also gluten-free and flavoured with fruit and veg such as sun-dried tomatoes.”

To capitalise on this demand, Roy has created a six-metre display of healthy products at the front of his store. The range includes Jacob’s crackers and Nairn’s oat biscuits and has been designed in tandem with the store’s new window display, which uses POS from Nisa to encourage customers to switch to healthy alternatives.

Jeremy Peters, head of category & insights at Burton’s Biscuit Company, agrees that more consumers want products that are healthy. “The increased focus on quality, health and free-from options has had a major impact on the sweet biscuits category in the past 12 months,” he says.

“While everyday and treats are driving growth in sweet biscuits, cereal bars and healthier options have also made an impact, with the health segment expected to grow by 14% to 2021 (Kantar Worldpanel 2018) as consumers look for lower fat, salt and sugar options that don’t compromise on quality, in addition to their usual favourites.”

Quality and taste is equally important to customers on a free-from shopping mission, says Mitchell at Mrs Crimble’s. “With the current wellness trend, we’ve seen significant growth in the number of consumers moving into the free-from cake category.

“These lifestyle shoppers are actively choosing to follow a gluten-free diet because of the perceived health benefits such as reduced bloating and improved digestive tract. Just because it is free-from doesn’t mean that consumers don’t expect great taste, though. They won’t compromise – the products have to deliver on taste or else they simply won’t buy them.”

M&M’s joins Mars cake bar range

Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats (MCD&T) is expanding its cake bar range with a new M&M’s sku.

The range, which also includes Mars, Galaxy, Milky Way and Galaxy Caramel cake bars, is experiencing a growth of 5% year on year and is now worth £4.56m (Nielsen Scantrack, total coverage, cake bar skus, MAT to 14 July 2018).

MCD&T hopes to accelerate this growth and capitalise on demand with M&M’s cake bars. With five individually wrapped cake bars in each pack, the product contains a soft chocolate sponge, topped with a layer of cream and crispy pieces, coated in milk chocolate.

The M&M’s cake bars are expected to grow the £29m cake bar category (Nielsen total coverage data to 7 July 2018), introducing the world’s number one confectionery brand to the market (IRI, all grocery values sales, June 2017).

Michelle Frost, general manager at MCD&T, said: “We are extremely excited to introduce another iconic brand to our cake bar range and are confident that the innovative M&M’s cake bars will soon become a favourite with consumers.”

The cake bars are available in cases of 5x25.5g packs (rrp £1.65 each).


Grab and go

Steve Kelly, channel director at Premier Foods, believes continued growth in the food-to-go market is also having a positive effect on demand for cakes and biscuits.

He says: “The cakes and biscuits category has previously been driven by the take-home occasion, but that is changing with the growth of the food-to-go sector, now worth £20.7bn (MCA Food-to-go report, February 2018).

“Out-of-home snacking is a key focus across the industry, and retailers can capitalise on this by stocking products that allow convenient, individual portions to be purchased. Within this, portion control is of importance to consumers as they are increasingly conscious about their food choices.”

Alan Carr, owner of a Nisa store in Newport, Essex, is enjoying strong sales across his range of grab and go biscuits and cakes thanks to the success of the Co-op own label.

He says: “The products have really helped us boost sales year on year. The cookies and brownies have performed particularly well as they are sold in small packs of five and are easy to share.

“These types of treats work really well within our food-to-go or bakery range, which has always been a traditionally strong area for us. Hopefully, we’ll get access to even more lines over the next few months.”