McVitie's customised tea trolley stocked with biscuits including Chocolate Digestives, Jaffa Cakes, Hobnobs, and Penguins  2100x1400

Source: Pladis

A customised tea trolley stocked with biscuits including Chocolate Digestives, Jaffa Cakes, Hobnobs, and Penguins, as used in the McVitie’s True Originals campaign last year

Price hikes across its sweet and savoury snacking brands last year helped Pladis UK record sales growth of 14.9% during 2023, with profits also leaping along with slight gains in market share.

The manufacturer (formerly United Biscuits UK) reported revenue of £984.4m in newly-filed full accounts to 31 December 2023, well up from £857.1m in 2022. Sales figures comprised those for Pladis’ brands including McVitie’s, Jacob’s, Carr’s, Go Ahead!, Flipz, and BN, as well as for private-label products and royalty payments for use of these biscuit and cracker brands.

The rise was attributable to increased product prices, which came in response to unprecedented cost inflation, noted the company. Meanwhile, Pladis UK’s share of the overall UK biscuit market (excluding discounters) was said to have improved slightly from 21.5% in 2022 to 22.2% by the end of last year.

Adjusted EBITDA (representing operating profit before taxes, financing and other costs and expenses) rose by 11.8% to reach £151.6m in 2023. This was largely due to the flow-through of benefits from prior year supply chain cost base reduction actions, it stated.

The company said its strategic objectives were aligned with those of its ultimate parent company in the UK, Pladis Foods Limited, which included the ‘Compete to Win’ framework implemented in 2020 designed to unlock business potential through people and brands.

One of the framework’s four pillar is labelled ‘Innovate today to fuel tomorrow’, and sees Pladis seeking to deliver industry-leading, cross-category innovations. Among numerous NPD rolled out during 2023 was the McVitie’s white chocolate digestive, which was reported to be Pladis’ biggest biscuit launch in the last two years and worth £7.6m in the six months since its debut.

McVitie’s has just unveiled a new limited-edition cola bottle flavour of its Jaffa Cakes, the first time it has ventured beyond fruit flavours. Aimed at driving penetration among younger shoppers seeking innovative, unique flavour combinations, the new sweet treats will initially hit Asda on 10 June in packs of 10 (rsp: £1.25) before a wider roll out at all major retailers from the end of July. A price-marked pack will be made available for wholesalers and convenience retailers as well.

The cola variant joins the likes of Rockin’ Raspberry Jaffa Cakes introduced last August as alternative flavours to the original Jaffa orange that have helped add £19.7m in sales to the brand over the past three years, according to Nielsen Total Coverage data from 15 May 2021 to 23 March 2024.

Expanding its £8.6m cake bars portfolio (Nielsen data, 52w to 9 March 2024), McVitie’s will also be launching Jaffa Cakes Bars with the new cola flavour. Packs will come with five individually wrapped bars (rsp: £1.80).

During 2023, the company spent £8.5m on research and development, a significant increase on the £4.9m invested the year prior. Helping to further enhance its innovation in biscuits, crackers, and cakes moving forward, Pladis UK & Ireland recently appointed Taryn-Lisa Molle-McConnell to the role of vice president of R&D.