Getting behind biscuits


With biscuits relative in size to crisps, it is a category that under-indexes in convenience, but with a bit of care and attention, you could find yourself taking a bigger bite out of Scotland’s £224m biscuits market.

by Mia Hunt

Overall, the biscuits category is the same size as the crisps market – and is now worth £224m in Scotland. Get biscuits right and you will make more money. How to create that perfect fixture is the tricky part however. For starters, the key to strong sales, is to ensure the fixture is well ranged and merchandised to allow easy navigation, with a full complement of leading brands.

“Biscuits is a highly impulsive category and one that covers all key snacking occasions, making it relevant to consumers throughout the whole day,” says Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondeléz International. “This is crucial for the convenience trade – retailers should capitalise on the versatility of the biscuit category, and use it to drive sales by responding to daily customer missions.”

She adds that biscuits can also link with a number of other categories, such as hot beverages in the winter so consider cross-purchasing opportunities to maximise sales for both ranges and help drive impulse purchases.

According to David Costello, Head of Customer Category Management at Burton’s Biscuit Company, biscuits continue to provide significant profit potential for retailers who recognise the importance of ‘treatier’ brands and savoury biscuits. “The really good news for retailers is that sales of biscuits in the impulse channel are growing four times faster than the total market with treats and savoury biscuits driving growth.”

Burton’s is focusing on the on-the-go biscuit snacks category with its single serve Maryland Gooeys (30g) and bite size Maryland Choc Chip Cookies (40g), both meeting the needs of the 28% of shoppers who are looking for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Maryland Gooeys

Nash cites belVita Breakfast as an on-the-go example. Available in single 50g portion packs in three variants – Strawberry Duo Crunch, Honey and Nut and new Crunchy Hazelnut – they are ideal for breakfast on the move, she says, and are a good solution for retailers with limited space.

“By stocking on-the-go formats and positioning a range of relevant products near the front of store, retailers can facilitate that impulsive snacking purchase that is key to driving revenue,” she says.

Lesley Ann Gray, Brand and Sales Manager at Border Biscuits says that the premium biscuits market should not be overlooked. “We are continuing to perform well in the premium biscuit market and have recently seen a 10% increase in sales and additional national listings across the portfolio, particularly on our best-selling dark and milk chocolate ginger range,” she says.

She adds that innovation and NPD continues to drive the brand and more developments are imminent.

Social media is playing its part in the company’s popularity too. “We recently launched a #bbspotted campaign across our social media and digital channels, calling on Border Biscuits fans to send in pictures of the best Border Biscuits retail displays and unusual places they’ve spotted the range, for their chance to win a case of biscuits and feature on our website gallery.

PMP success

Hena Chandarana, Trade Communications Controller at United Biscuits, expects to see continued new developments and innovation in pack formats that are tailored towards the consumer trend of ‘little and often’ shopping habits, while PMPs continue to play a major part in biscuit success. In one convenience store trial, where original McVitities packs were switched with new £1 PMPs, the owner experienced a 63% uplift in sales in the space of three weeks, allowing the store to compete on price with the local supermarket.

“At United Biscuits we know that for more than 90% of shoppers, a visit to the biscuit fixture is planned and that when shoppers are there, 50% of them will spend less than 30 seconds in the aisle choosing their products of choice,” adds Chandarana. “As a result, we’ve worked with our retail partners on improving this shopping experience by creating simpler, better segmented fixtures with clear brand blocks aimed to help shoppers better navigate the fixture.”

In January, United Biscuits launched McVitie’s DeliChoc and recently relaunched McVitie’s Breakfast range which now includes two new products – McVitie’s Breakfast Oaty Breaks and McVitie’s Breakfast Fruit & Oat Bakes, as well as a fresh, modern packaging design.


While sweet holds the lion’s share of the biscuit market, the savoury category shows the most impressive growth rate of +4.7%.

In the savory sphere, Burton’s has driven 95% of Scotland’s £1.5m savoury biscuit growth over the last year. Its Fish ‘n’ Chips and Cathedral City Baked Bites have hit £18.1m value sales – and £2.4m in Scotland – just over a year after launch, and it has added to the range with the introduction of Curry Sauce and Picked Onion variants.

Mondeléz also capitalised on the growth of the savoury market by bringing out Ritz Crisp & Thin  in May – a baked, light potato snack available in four flavours and in single and sharing bags.

On the marketing front, United Biscuits experienced a successful 2014, down in part to the re-launch of its two core brands – McVitie’s and Jacob’s. As a result, its value share of the total biscuit market rose to 27% as of December 2014.

“Undertaking our masterbrand strategy has provided a clear identity for our brands,” says Chandarana, “offering a consistent look and feel for consumers across our packaging and our advertising, whilst also giving a very specific message on each of the products themselves.”