Biscuit or confectionery? - the lines are blurring

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The lines are blurring between sweet biscuits and confectionery and
between sweet biscuits and snacks.

The lines are blurring between sweet biscuits and confectionery and between sweet biscuits and snacks, according to a recent review of last year’s various product launches by Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD).

In the sweet biscuits and confectionery segment, for example, Keebler has introduced a co-branded candy flavouring to its E.L. Fudge cookie line, the first time a co-branded product has been launched by the Campbell Soup unit. Butterfinger Blasted Sandwich Cookies are made with Nestlé's Butterfinger candy.

Also in the US is a product from Nabisco Foods which could be of particular interest to kids coming home from school. Chips Ahoy! Ooey Gooey Warm'n Chewy Triple Chunk Cookies, made with real chocolate and white fudge chips, just need to be heated in the microwave for 15 seconds for a warm and tasty treat.

In the sweet biscuit and cookies sector, the GNPD review highlighted the continuing trend towards indulgent lines for a special treat, as well as the emergence of more fortified products and many more portable and convenient snacking formats. Fun shapes and flavours continue for children and adults alike.

One of the new trends has been the increased demand for products that are free from ingredients which are detrimental to allergy sufferers and diabetics, particularly in the UK and the US.

The sweet biscuits/cookies category broadened to suit everyone from the super sweet-tooth, with Cookie Barz from Nabisco and Cookies & Snickers from Mars, for example, to even the most health conscious consumer.

In the latter category, launches of fortified and functional lines have been particularly widespread. Popular additional ingredients include vitamins, minerals, iron, calcium and fibre. These fortified varieties are also often targeted at a particular audience (especially children and females).

Among the products launched in this category in the last year are Lu Prince Start cereal biscuits in Belgium and the Netherlands from Danone, which are enriched with calcium, iron and vitamins, while also from Danone, but this time in New Zealand, are CalciWine biscuits, which contain more calcium than half a cup of milk and are said to offer an ideal way to boost calcium intake.

In the US, meanwhile, recent launches include Nature's Health Life Rising Herbal Health Cookies, which are specifically formulated to perform a functional duty, such as the Happy Stomach Cookie which help supports the stomach and spleen to improve immune function.

But the novelties in this sweet biscuit sector have not only come in the form of products or ingredients – there have also been some innovative packaging designs. These include Mini Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookies from Nabisco, which cashed in on the reissue of the film ET. The mini cookies were enclosed in an injection-moulded tube with integral clip-on cap, and the wraparound self-adhesive label is printed flexo on a shimmer effect background material. The pack is finished off with a plastic clip so that it can be attached to belt loops or backpacks. The 58g tube retails for $3.25 in cinemas.

Looking forward to this year, GNPD expects to see the continued launch of premium and indulgent sweet biscuit lines for adults and more enriched mainstream varieties to cater for the health conscious. “The development of unusual flavours and textures for children, often inspired by the confectionery category, is set to continue. Interesting and unusual flavours like strawberry kiwi and watermelon Toaster Strudel will please the little ones, while Snack Cakes from Awrey Bakeries offer grown-up tastes with flavours like raspberry brownie, lemon coconut, and caramel apple. Snacking will be key in all food markets, and for biscuits we expect continued blurring with other markets.”

In the confectionery segment, meanwhile, children have been the main focus for sugar confectionery producers, according to the GNPD analysis, with an increased use of character merchandising, bright colours, fun shapes and flavours and interactive products.

Popular flavours include fruit and sour tasting products - the more sour the better. Children also seem to want to torture themselves with hot/spicy products and this is a fast-growing trend. Also active are sweets with popping pieces for added fun, or sweets/lollipops with added chewing gum. Bizarre flavours also seem to attract kids, such as mashed potato & cucumber! Shapes are also important for kids, the scarier the better it seems.

Among some of the most interesting products targeted at kids last year were Too Tarts Sweet Heet Spray Candy from Hammer in Canada. The candy comes in four hot flavours - Good 'N Hot Green Apple, Lotza Hot Cherry, Way Hot Watermelon and Blazin' Hot Blueberry – and each retail in a pump spray bottle for C$1.99 at convenience stores. Dragon Fire, Dentyne Fire, Stingin' Red Ants and Too Tarts Sweet Heet Spray Candy are proving that cinnamon and other fiery flavours are stronger than ever.

Interactive products and those with toys/accessories (e.g. tattoos or stickers) are also popular, as the sweet/candy becomes more than something that is simply eaten.

Interesting interactive novelties include Chupa Chups lollipops which come with a pair of sunglasses with a side attachment for hands-free lollipop sucking (launched in the UK and Spain), the Pez Candy Rocket Pen candy dispenser in the US which lights up, writes, has a secret compartment, dispenses candy and has a clip for securing in a pocket, Chupa Chups’ Dinosaur Icky Licky Sticks which oozes green slime from its nostrils, and Fr-Ooze Oozing Lollipop from Au’some Candies in Singapore and the US, a squeezeable tube lollipop that shoots a shot of vitamin C-fortified gel through the hard candy pop.

Children may be the main drivers in sugar confectionery, but adults are an important target audience for potential growth. Recent moves include those to target adult activities, such as alcohol consumption, or adult brands.

The adult-orientated products include Maxi Energy Sucker from South Africa, targeted at ravers and containing caffeine, guarana and ginseng, while in Sweden, Jelly Shot Glasses are offered in two alcoholic flavours and are sold frozen. Bacardi O, a brand of orange-flavoured rum, is also available as a brand for peppermint candy in the US.

For a while now, a healthy slant has been given to the sugar confectionery market by fortifying lines with vitamins and minerals. The GNPD have also seen some functional moves predominantly from niche players (e.g. Function prebiotic sweets from Zile). Such healthy moves continue, and it is interesting to see these developments from leading brands such as Fruit-tella. The new Fruit-tella Plus line in Italy from Perfetti Van Melle comprises soft sweets with real fruit juice and enriched with vitamins B, C and E as well as calcium.

One novel product GNPD saw last year in the other confectionery sub-category was Harmony Polar Bearz Gummi Breath Fresheners. The bear-shaped, peppermint-sanded gummies have a menthol effect when eaten. This product is an example of multi-functional products that have been popping up lately, and we are sure to see more of them in the future.

As far as the future is concerned, GNPD predicts that there will be more products targeting adults, in response to an ageing population, including more premium and indulgent lines. There will also be more exotic or fashionable flavours such as smoothies, fig, prickly pear, kiwi, cranberry and pomegranate, and the health trend will continue, with more sugar confectionery with fortified/functional positionings, especially enriched with calcium and ACE vitamins, likely to hit the shelves.

The introduction of limited editions to established brands, following in the footsteps of chocolate confectionery, will also be a highlight of the current year, and there are likely to be more introductions of hot and spicy candies, as well as more potent varieties of traditional brands.

For more information about the Global New Products Database​, contact Anne Bourgeois at Mintel International, 18-19 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9PL, United Kingdom. Telephone: +44 20 76064533; fax: +44 20 76003327; e-mail: eqvtrfh@zvagry.pbz​ or naaro@zvagry.pbz​.

Mintel has more than 25 years’ experience in providing global product intelligence to the world’s leading packaged goods companies. In addition to Mintel publications, the company’s product consultants are able to advise on the most appropriate markets for customised global product research. Its network of field researchers, who conduct both product monitoring and product retrieval, extends to more than 130 countries.

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