2 minutes of your time: Sarah O’Neill

With food on the go an increasingly lucrative opportunity for local retailers, many categories are getting in on the act. SLR talks to Sarah O’Neill, Head of Cake on the Go at Premier Foods, to find out how big the cake opportunity is.


Sarah O'NeillSarah O’Neill, Head of Cake on the Go at Premier Foods.

Sarah leads a dedicated sales and marketing team and has a wealth of knowledge and experience within the FMCG market, having worked with a number of food to go and snack brands, including senior positions with Ferrero UK and Dairy Crest. Sarah is currently based in Bristol and actively supports a number of charitable organisations. She’d be happy to share her expertise with good causes on a pro bono basis.

Before any of that though, Sarah is satisfying her wanderlust with the ultimate trip down under, to Antarctica.

Cake on the go is new territory for the category, so how would you recommend retailers get involved and make the most of the opportunity?

Focus on stocking a Cake on the Go range within your store.  We offer branded parasite units for our product range which can be useful. Also site any Cake on the Go products with other food to go items, such as confectionery, sandwiches or alongside a coffee station to promote cross category purchasing and impulse buys.

So cakes have moved on from being just something sat on a platter in the middle of the dining room table?

There is still a place for friends and family to sit down to enjoy a high tea, but cake is increasingly seen as a small treat that can be enjoyed anywhere. 35% of cake is eaten out of home and this sets the scene perfectly for smaller packs as busy consumers can enjoy their favourite cake brands whilst on the go.

Is that trend the same throughout the UK, and are there any regional preferences?

Yes, cake is certainly well received across the country. In our experience, we don’t see huge variations on the popularity of our range. However, looking at Scotland the Mr Kipling Angel Slice is our best-selling flavour slice.

Is the ‘on the go’ something you’re with for the long term, or Is Cake on the Go the fashionable way forward?

Whilst we see Cake on the Go as a more modern approach and a great way to help ensure our brands are relevant for modern day shoppers, the launch of this range isn’t about being ‘fashionable’, it is a long term move in line with changing consumer behaviour and eating habits. It is important that we continue to move into new territories such as food to go.

So, tell us about your own Cake on the Go range?

Our Cake on the Go range is made up of a selection of new twin pack formats from our well known Mr Kipling and Cadbury Cakes brands. By offering favourites such as Mr Kipling Angel Slices, Cherry Bake-wells and Cadbury Mini Rolls in a convenient, portable pack, we are helping retailers to capitalise on the growing on the go market. Having launched in April this year, we have received positive feedback from shoppers, with the twin packs enabling them to enjoy one cake on the go and save one for later.

With cakes as a very traditional part of our identity in the UK, do you feel there is scope to extend their appeal?

Absolutely, the idea of pausing mid-morning for a cup of tea and cake certainly feels like a tradition, and cake has a lot of very positive events and associations in the UK. With Mr Kipling known as a traditional British brand that is enjoyed across the nation, we are ideally placed to provide shoppers with a little treat on the go from a brand they know and trust.

With more emphasis on a balanced diet these days, can we as an industry promote cake as a healthy option?

Cake is to be enjoyed as a treat and as part of a balanced diet. As a business, we are committed to reducing sugar and calories within our portfolio – we have introduced calorie caps and colour coded front of pack labelling to help shoppers make an informed choice.

Go on then, tell us which is your favourite from the range…

My favourite Mr Kipling cake would definitely have to be the Cherry Bakewells, so I was particularly de-lighted when we recently introduced them to our Cake on the Go range!