Biscuits enjoy a long-established role as a cupboard staple among Brits. Some 92% eat sweet biscuits, with 45% doing so at least twice a week. Crackers are eaten by 77% of people and savoury biscuits by 73%, however, usage frequency lags considerably behind that of sweet biscuits. Product innovation remains vibrant, making this a dynamic and highly competitive market.
Meanwhile, cereal bars and breakfast biscuits are far less widely used, their penetration standing at 59% and 49%, respectively. They are also consumed far less frequently, these more recent entrants to the market having gained most ground among the under-35s.
Valued at £2.7 billion, sales of sweet and savoury biscuits and cereal bars/breakfast biscuits achieved growth of less than 3% over 2012-13, while volumes remained almost flat, at 558 million kg in 2013. This reflects the continuous pressure the market is facing from cost inflation, as well as NPD in added-value areas like health, convenience and premium ingredients.
With health featuring regularly in media headlines and on the government agenda, it is, unsurprisingly, also a consideration for consumers. Over half (55%) of adults in the UK had tried to lose weight in the year to September 2013, with cutting down on snacks being perceived as a good way to maintain weight, as stated by 54% of people who snack.
However, people also leave room for occasional indulgences in their diet. Almost three quarters (74%) of people who snack say that it is okay to indulge in less healthy snacks sometimes, boding well for the biscuits market. Compared to other treats, sweet biscuits seem to be in a favourable position anyway, with a sizeable group (17%) of consumers saying that sweet biscuits are a healthier alternative to chocolate.
Exclusive research finds health-related attributes, including low calorie and fat content and being high in fibre, are of greatest interest to consumers when it comes to savoury biscuits and crackers. Yet, only 14% of new launches in the segment carried a low/no/reduced fat claim in 2013, and 3% a low/no/reduced calorie claim.