Forget sitting down for tea and biscuits, it seems everyone wants a cookie-on-the-go these days. According to TNS, the freshly baked cookie market was worth a healthy £26.9m in the 52 weeks to April 23, 2006 – up 4.8% year-on-year. Influenced by the coffee shop sector, consumers are seeking individual treats in large formats and innovative flavours.

Something for everyone

The cookie market is one that every baker can profit from. There is a bewildering array of mixes, freeze/thaw options, frozen bake-off ‘pucks’ and pre-packaged cookies on offer.

Then there are chocolate chips, fruit and nut pieces and other inclusions, coatings and toppings to help deliver the perfect chewy, crispy or luxury bite. There are also licenced cookies, such as BakeMark’s Nestlé range, comprising Toffee Crisp, Milkybar, Rolo and Smarties varieties. The association of a cookie with a more familiar chocolate product appeals, says BakeMark, “to young and old alike”.

The market is heavily influenced by what is on sale in the US, so portion size is a prime consideration. But, paradoxically, ‘healthy’ cookie formats are also in demand, with a number of suppliers offering oat and fruit varieties. According to McDougalls (part of RHM), the inclusion of oats in a cookie mix make it a healthy choice, as oats release energy slowly and offer a good source of soluble fibre, which may help reduce cholesterol.

Most suppliers agree that investment in premium cookie ranges is money well spent. Dawn Foods has launched the Adore premium range, based on consumer and trade market research. The individually wrapped products comprise muffins, brownies, cakes and cookies.

Simon Richardson, sales and marketing director at Rich Products, says: “Consumers are willing to pay more for products they perceive to be a luxury and this is good news for the industry.”

The right choice

He points out that bakers should also consider the profile of their customers – firms near offices or schools should stock individually wrapped thaw-and-serve products, for instance – as well as the importance of strong displays.

“Cookies have a broad base of regular and occasional customers,” he says, “all with varying palates. By offering a choice of quality products, carefully selected with the customer in mind, bakers can really maximise the opportunity for profit that this growing

sector holds.”