Biscuits buck sugar fears

Biscuit sales have remained strong despite health concerns around sugar, latest research by analysts Mintel has revealed. 

Altogether £1.8bn was spent on sweet biscuits last year, with value sales for the entire biscuits, crackers/crispbreads and cereal/snack bars category rising by almost 1% to £2.8bn, the Biscuits, Cookies and Crackers report said.

The level of sugar contained in biscuits was described as “concerning” by nearly two-thirds (64%) of the 1,444 respondents polled, but the majority said they would continue to eat a few unhealthy treats if they “tasted good”.

Almost one-third (31%) expressed an interest in biscuits containing honey, molasses and agave syrup as an alternative sweetening ingredient, while a quarter listed unrefined sugar.

“It would be relatively easy for a manufacturer to replace refined sugar with unrefined sugar in biscuits to unlock this demand,” the report stated.

The research also found that nearly a third of respondents would be keen to try mini packs of biscuits, with the same number interested in trying a sweet biscuit specifically designed to go with coffee.

“While the majority of people are concerned about sugar, sales of sweet biscuits are holding up well,” Richard Caines, Mintel senior food and drink analyst said. “With consumers likely to become more focused on portion control due to concerns about sugar, though, smaller convenience products and mini packs that also cater better for on-the-go snacking are likely to become more important.”

However, Caines warned that volume sales were expected to “stagnate or decline” and urged biscuit manufacturers to develop more “added-value products” to help “drive value growth”.

Sales of breakfast biscuits and cereal bars increased by 2% to £515 million in 2015, helped by strong NPD activity during the year and the appeal of convenient on-the-go snacks with a better-for-you positioning, the report added.

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