McVitie’s owner Pladis has published a new report on making the most of biscuit sales.

Better Biscuits, Pladis’ Annual Biscuit Review, encourages retailers to cash in on new snacking opportunities while protecting the £2.6bn core biscuits fixture.

“It’s easy to forget the huge contribution biscuits make to the sales of retailers and foodservice operators of all sizes,” said Stuart Graham, customer marketing director at Pladis UK & Ireland.

“Which is why our latest Annual Biscuit Review is probably the most important we have launched to date.”

Here, British Baker rounds up five key lessons from the study:

Snacking is becoming more frequent

As eating patterns evolve, snacking is becoming more frequent and less structured. The report found that 90% of consumers snack multiple times per day, with 7% forgoing meals altogether and just snacking.

The report identified five key snacking growth drivers:

  1. Balance: 39% of snack consumers looked for healthy products all or most of the time when choosing a snack.
  2. Sustain: 50% of snack consumers working full time said their busy lifestyles made snacking a necessity.
  3. Discovery: 58% of consumers liked to eat new things and 37% liked looking for new things when shopping.
  4. Indulgence: 66% of consumers said unhealthy snacks were fine as part of a balanced diet.
  5. Togetherness: 58% of 16 to 34-year olds and 52% of parents said snacks were a must-have for an evening in.

It’s vital to invest in the core

“While snacking represents a huge new opportunity for retailers, protecting the £2.6bn core fixture should be a priority,” said Graham.

“Core biscuit sales continue to come predominantly from a relatively small collection of household favourites, with £4 out of every £5 spent on biscuits in convenience coming from around 8% of the total number of products available [IRI 2018], so stocking the right range is absolutely vital.”

Supermarket sales have dipped

Grocery multiples saw an overall decline, driven by Tesco, where biscuit sales were down 2.5% to £602m. On the other hand, the discounters grew, with Aldi up 9.2% and Lidl 14.3%, building on a strong previous year. Iceland’s biscuit sales were up 9.8%, although they still held the lowest percentage share in the market.

Savoury biscuits are on the up

The savoury biscuits category has seen growth of 2%, almost double that of last year. Pladis found that crackers and crispbreads accounted for over half (53.7%) of all biscuits eaten alongside alcohol.

Growth has been driven by a 13.9% increase in sales of rice cakes, with rice cake brand Kallø up 11.3%. Crispbreads – the largest sector in the savoury biscuits category – were up 4.4%.

Hot weather is not good for biscuit sales

Sweet everyday biscuits were down 1.2% and sweet everyday treats down 2.1% to £421m. Pladis said this was a result of the hot summer which had a “negative impact on chocolate and biscuits but was good for crisps and snacks”.

Sweet healthier biscuits, on the other hand, were up 4.5% to £562m.