Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods is looking to tap burgeoning interest in plant-based food with a new brand called Plantastic.

Due to launch in the coming financial year, Plantastic will include desserts, cake and soup that are produced with plant-based ingredients and sourced from a combination of in-house manufacturing and co-manufacturer partners (see below).

The company has also revealed plans to roll out new premium Mr Kipling cakes and further Cadbury branded lines.

Premier announced the launches in its full-year results for the period ending 30 March 2019. Total group sales grew 0.6% year on year to £824.3m, with branded revenue up 1.4% to £679.2m and non-branded down 2.7% to £145.1m.

Non-branded sales were hit particularly hard in its Premier’s Sweet Treats division, with revenue down by a fifth as own-label products lost shelf space to branded goods and Premier exited some lower-value pies and tarts contracts.

Revenue was also heavily impacted by logistics and warehousing problems following the transfer of warehousing to a third-party managed operation in September.

“These issues adversely impacted both sales volume and efficiency in the second and third quarters, however [they] have now been resolved and customer service levels returned to normal levels in the fourth quarter of the year. Further work is now under way to optimise the cost base in this area,” stated the company in its results.

Premier saw a 5.3% rise in revenue from branded Sweat Treats following the relaunch of the Mr Kipling brand with a new look, TV advertising and NPD, including Flamingo slices. Total Mr Kipling revenue grew 12%, with UK revenue up 10%.

However, Cadbury cake sales declined year on year. Although the core portfolio enjoyed “good growth”, sales had been impacted by the timing effects of Easter and discontinuing some low-margin product, reported Premier.

This year, the company plans to launch a premium range of Mr Kipling ‘Signature’ cakes, with variants such as After Dinner Mint Fancies and Chocolate, Caramel & Pecan slices. It will also be expanding the Cadbury line-up with new cake slices.

Cadbury cakes’ performance was also dented overseas, which has been a major growth area for the business in recent years, and overall sales from the company’s International division fell 12.5% year on year.

Cadbury cake sales were affected by high stock levels in Australian customers’ supply chains, although this situation has now normalised, reported Premier. Price increases implemented for UK wholesalers, which export some of the group’s products, also resulted in significantly lower sales. Mr Kipling, meanwhile, saw a 48% increase in Australian sales.

In the coming financial year, Mr Kipling and Cadbury cakes  are due to launch in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, and Premier plans to increase distribution of Mr Kipling in the US and Canada and both Mr Kipling and Cadbury cake in South Africa.

“While the first half of FY19/20 is expected to be slower than last year, reflecting the timing of marketing investment, we expect to make further progress over the next 12 months thanks to our continuing pipeline of new product innovation and strong customer relationships,” said Premier Foods acting chief executive officer Alastair Murray.

The Plantastic brand launch

Due to launch towards the end of this year, the Plantastic range has been developed to capitalise on the boom in plant-based food.

The initial launches will be cake bars and dessert pots, but Premier has ambitions to take the brand into other categories:

Plantastic Cake bar range 

  • Lime & Courgette Cake with Coconut
  • Apricot & Ginger Oat Bar with Chia Seeds
  • Chocolate & Beetroot Brownie with Cocoa Nibs

Plantastic Dessert Pots:

  • Raspberry with mixed grains
  • Strawberry with mixed grains
  • Blueberry with mixed grains
  • Mango & Passionfruit with mixed grains

“Launching the Plantastic brand with ranges of dessert pots and cake bars will give the brand immediate appeal to health-conscious shoppers seeking convenience when on the go,” said Premier Foods managing director Alex Whitehouse.

“This is a ground-breaking launch for Premier Foods, marking a significant achievement for our technical team, who had to develop innovative solutions to deliver high-quality products using plant-based ingredients.”