Manufacturers are no longer looking to make healthier cookies and biscuits, preferring instead to focus product development on indulgence and portion control, according to a market expert.
Duncan Manley, creator of the website: thebiscuitdoctor.com told foodmanufacture.co.uk: “I don’t think anybody is really thinking about healthier biscuits. The move to low-fat biscuits is now gone really.
“I think everybody’s realised that if you remove the fat they don’t taste so good. And I think the same thing happens with sugar. If you reduce the sugar they’re not really the same biscuit,”
Instead of healthier biscuits, Manley has seen interest rising in large cookies such as those sold individually in coffee shops.
Research group Mintel’s 2011 report Biscuits, cookies and crackers – UK found that consumers wanted everyday indulgences during the economic recession.
“Consumers’ search for everyday indulgence has boosted the everyday and special treats segments,” the report said.
Meanwhile the report found that manufacturers were experimenting with smaller packages that hold smaller, individual, portions in order to allow indulgent products to be more widely eaten.
“To aid portion control and increase on the go/lunch-box occasions, bite-sized portions are being widely introduced by leading brands such as Kraft Foods’ Ritz and Oreo brands and Northern Foods’ Fox’s Mini Party Rings," according to the report.
Smaller packaging innovation could help to broaden the consumer base of users to include the under-35s, with snack/individual packs appealing to the 16-24s for sweet biscuits and the 25-34s for savoury biscuits, it added.
“Over a quarter of consumers would like to see more individual/snack packs of sweet biscuits, indicating that packaging innovation could allow biscuit manufacturers to increase consumption,” said the report.
Overall, the biscuit, cookie and cracker market has grown by 22% between 2005 and 2010. Sweet biscuits represent by far the largest part of that growth, and are forecast to grow to 83% this year.
Mintel estimates the sector as a whole will grow to £2.3bn in 2011, an increase of 2.7% on last year and will reach £2.6bn by 2015.
But rising commodity costs, such has higher cereal prices, will seriously affect the sector in the years ahead, warned the report.
Manley is author of the eponymous Manley’s technology of biscuits, crackers and cookies.