UK bitesized confectionery market ‘thriving’, says Mars

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Mars seizes on growth of bitesized format with Twix and Mars brand launches
Mars seizes on growth of bitesized format with Twix and Mars brand launches

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Bitesize confectionery has seen 40% growth over the last four years in the UK and is now worth £550m ($859m), according to Mars which has launched its first share bag versions for its Twix and Mars brands.

Twix Mix will be rolled out across UK retailers from July in 140g sharing pouches, while the company also recently announced the arrival of Mars Mix.

Mars reports that the bitesized confectionery category is “thriving” ​and claims to hold six of the top ten bestselling large pouch lines in the UK.

Consumers staying at home

The company said the growth came as consumers were opting to stay at home more often.

Nicola Lacey, central sales director, Mars Chocolate UK, said:  “As we continue to see consumers swapping their Big Night Out for a Big Night In, we have witnessed the incredible impact this has had on the confectionery market and in particular on Bitesize products.”

The Twix Mix launch is backed by a £9m ($14m) media spend this year and Mars is hoping retailers position the bags at prime point of sale locations in stores.

UK bitesized confectionery market

Euromonitor International last year published its ‘Confectionery Packaging in the United Kingdom’​ report, which indicated growth prospects in the UK confectionery packaging market were sparse, but bite-sized and share bag versions of well-known brands could be the saving grace.

Francisco Redruello, senior analyst for food at Euromonitor told ConfectioneryNews: “They [share bags] have been doing very well in the UK and US. Specifically last year because of the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee”

He echoed Mars’ sentiments that cash-strapped consumers were choosing to stay at home and were sharing treats with their families and friends.

The bitesized bag format, which Euromonitor calls bagged selflines, grew 15% in constant value in the UK from 2011 to 2012.

Mars and Mondelez

Redruello said that Mars and Mondelez were the main players in the category.

As well as the new launches, Mars also has bitesize bag varieties of M&Ms, Maltesers, Minstrels, Milky Way, Galaxy and Revels.

Mondelez International-owned Cadbury has bitesized versions of many brands including Wispa and Milka.

The company has named ‘Bitesize’ among its four global chocolate innovation platforms, which also includes ‘Bubbly’, ‘Choco-bakery’ and ‘Hollow Wafer’.

Bitesized market outside UK

The bitesized trend also appears to stretch beyond the UK.

According to Symphony IRI’s 2011 New Product Pacesetters report, which compiles the bestselling new food products in the US, the number of bite-sized launches to make the list was much higher than historic averages and included bite-sized chocolates such as Wonka Exceptionals.

A bitesized product also bagged the award for most innovative new chocolate product at the US’ National Confectioners Association (NCA) Sweet & Snacks Expo last month. Hershey’s new bitesized version of Kit Kat, Kit Kat Minis, which it made under license in the US from brand owner Nestlé, was awarded top chocolate honors.

Euromonitor said the share bag pack format market value had grown 1% in the US from 2011 to 2012. While the growth is not as pronounced as in the UK, Redruello said the category was still growing as chocolate tablets in the US were suffering.

He added that the bitesized format carried appeal in countries in Southern Europe facing economic downturns such as Spain and Greece.

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