Valued at £590 million in 2008, the spreads market is almost evenly split between sweet and savoury products. Sales of honey and chocolate/nut spreads have been particularly buoyant of late in sweet spreads, while in savoury spreads, chilled spreadables, such as sandwich fillers and pâtés, account for the bulk of sales.
Jam is the strongest sector within sweet spreads, accounting for a third of sales and is followed by honey, which has seen an increase in sales of 13% between 2006 and 2008. Marmalade is one of the only sectors in sweet spreads to have been in decline, while chocolate/nut spreads sales have been very buoyant in the past few years, thanks to strong advertising campaigns from Nutella.
In savoury spreads, chilled spreadables are dominant, representing about 60% of sales, while cheese spreads, the next most active sector, has seen an increase in value sales in 2008, due to rising milk prices.
At the beginning of 2009, honey and sandwich fillers were particularly active in new product launches compared to previous periods. There are an increasing number of new products sourced naturally, particularly using organic ingredients. With more importance given to provenance, Fairtrade launches are also more common. Several sweet spreads have also been positioned as sources of health lately, particularly honeys.
Exclusive consumer research finds nearly 15% of adults have sweet spreads in their cupboard that they do not eat very often.
Knowing they already have jam or marmalade at home means many consumers will simply not feel they need to purchase any on their weekly shopping, and is limiting this market.
The report suggests the promotion of simple and quick desserts or recipe ideas to help sweet spreads become more than pantry ornaments.
Another problem the market suffers from is being pigeon holed into being a breakfast-only product. About a quarter of adults who eat sweet spreads use them in many different ways, such as cooking, but with more efforts from manufacturers, this could grow.
Premium jam brand Bonne Maman teamed up with Aga cookers last year for a roadshow of instore demonstrations coupled with a booklet featuring recipes using the famous jam.
Simple on-pack instructions on how to use different sweet spreads to compose uncomplicated desserts, such as spreading chocolate spread on biscuits or using it as a dip for fresh fruit, will be simple enough for most novice cooks and will allow children’s participation.
With the revival in all things British and retro, traditional desserts such as jam tarts, jam roly-poly are other ways sweet spreads can be used, while companies could also suggest to add it to ice cream or plain yogurt.
Finally, the research also highlights a great opportunity for the market with the trend towards packed lunches. Chilled sandwich spreads and other potential sandwich fillers to increase sales need to be highlighted as convenient and cheap sandwich solutions, as economy and convenience are important to consumers who make their own packed lunches.
Restrictions on advertising different foods to children on television are likely to affect the cheese spreads sector, especially when it comes to brands that are strongly oriented towards children, potentially limiting their brand awareness among their main target market.