Seven key trends bring £500M biscuit opportunity

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

McVities maker United Biscuits has named seven key factors driving biscuit market growth
McVities maker United Biscuits has named seven key factors driving biscuit market growth

Related tags Biscuits Biscuit Meal

United Biscuits (UB) has identified seven key drivers of consumption and purchase that can steer the sustainable growth of the biscuit market.

The seven steps are expected to unlock the future growth for the category and add up to a total opportunity of £500M. 

The United Biscuits 2015 Biscuits Review, which used independent data, also demonstrated the potential for the £2.5bn biscuits category to double in value by 2020.

UB sales director Mark Winter said: “With snacking habits forecast to grow as consumers shift to more frequent, smaller meals and on-the-go eating, biscuits are well placed to continue their steady value growth evident over the past five years.

“If retailers can take advantage of the opportunities highlighted in the UB category vision, they will be able to maximise the huge prospects presented by the category to their significant benefit.”​ 

The seven key drivers include Making A Meal Of It​, which showed that the number of snacks eaten at meal times was up by 2% since 2010. UB revealed that biscuits were currently present in 5% of main meals and increasing this by only 1% would achieve an extra £68M.

On The Go ​was inspired by consumers’ daily lives, which are becoming busier and more complex. The result is that people are or consider themselves to be “time poor”. ​UB said that ‘carried out’ occasions accounted for 11% of biscuit consumption. If the industry could increase this to the level of the total bagged snacks market (17%), it would mean an extra £102M.

Seven biscuit trends

  1. Making a meal of it
  2. On the go
  3. Fun times together
  4. Daytime break
  5. Better for us
  6. From me to you
  7. Simplify and inspire 

The Fun Times Together ​highlighted the trend towards stay at home drinking and eating. Biscuits currently feature in 8% of sociable occasions but by increasing this to the level of confectionary (16%) it would boost sales by £69M.

Daytime Break​ was inspired by the fact that over a third of people were snacking between meals in the afternoon and evenings, three times a week, the report revealed. UB said: “We can unlock even more potential in this area by building the link between emotion and everyday biscuits."  ​Biscuits are currently represented in 26% of snacking occasions and by increasing this by 1% it would mean an increase of £79M. 

Better For Us ​is reflective of consumers becoming increasingly health conscious with 71% claiming healthy eating is important. The report said: “We can capitalise on this by highlighting the simple, wholesome nature of biscuits as a snack option.”​  Currently, 6% of biscuit occasions are driven by health and increasing this to 11% would add £109M. 

From Me To You ​showcases the fact that more than 40% of UK households would give biscuits as gifts if they were available. UB said there was an opportunity to expand the availability of gift packs. If gifting biscuits achieved 2.5% of usage occasions, this would add sales of £43M.

Simplify and Inspire​ focuses on the opportunity to modernise and simplify the shopping aisle to encourage shoppers to browse for longer. Increasing the total number of usage occasions by 3% would result in a £72M boost.


UB biscuit report key findings

  • The £2.5bn biscuit category accounts for more than a quarter of the snacking market, with double the value growth of confectionery
  • Biscuits enjoyed 99% penetration, with each household buying an average of 94 packets of biscuits a year, spending £94.25 each
  • Biscuits were eaten on 6bn separate occasions throughout the year
  • Sweet biscuits accounted for 80% of the biscuit category with savoury at 20%, although overall the savoury category performed better, growing by 5%
  • UB has nearly a quarter of the biscuit sector with a value of £580M. Own-label products accounted for almost 28% of biscuit sales, up 3% last year
  • Chocolate biscuit bars are the nation’s favourite biscuits with McVitie’s the leading brand
  • Within sweet biscuits, the top performing sector was ‘special treats’, up 3% last year
  • Everyday biscuits saw a drop in sales as consumers chose quality over value
  • Children’s biscuits were down 5%, reflecting healthier choices made by parents
  • UB was the leading manufacturer of savoury biscuits, increasing its sales by 6%. Jacob’s was the leading brand in this category, holding almost a 20% share of  the  category
  • Key trends for consumer choice in 2015 included health consciousness, quality over value and a commitment to biscuits in a diverse snacking market 

Related topics Markets Biscuits

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