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‘Moving into a £2bn category comes with its challenges’: Warburtons Snacks director

By Kacey Culliney , 31-Jul-2012

Amid saturated bread market Warburtons ventures into snacks
Amid saturated bread market Warburtons ventures into snacks

Flagship bakery Warburtons dived into the UK’s £2bn snacks arena last year but it is rife with competition and not without its challenges, says Warburtons Snacks director.

The UK snacks market surged 7.1% in 2011 and pulled in a total of £2.7bn in sales, according to a Keynote report, and is set to hit £3.13bn by 2016. This shift was underpinned by the popularity of snacks, the growth of adult lunchboxes and manufacturers delving into the bag-sharing and health trends, it said. See HERE .

Warburtons has injected £6m over the last year into technologies and new product development (NPD) to diversify into this snowballing snacks arena, with its first product launch of baked pitta chips in May 2011. It has since launched its second product; Indian baked naan chips, just this month.

Next week Warburtons will launch a 40g bag of its latest snack to tap into the impulse, food-to-go sector via stores and vending machines.

Martin Garlick, Warburton Snacks director, said that diversification into the snacks shoulder category was a natural move that holds long-term vision.

However, “moving into a £2bn category comes with its challenges and we are not naïve to the fact that this is a very competitive market,” Garlick told BakeryandSnacks.com.

PepsiCo’s UK snacks subsidiary Walkers is a big player and United Biscuits has a lot on offer, including Carr’s and Wheat Crunchies.

“Continual innovation underpins everything we do,” Garlick said, and the move into snacks has, and will continue to be, a learning curve.

“We will continue to invest in technology and innovation over the next year,” he said.

Taste of India

Warburtons’ latest addition to its snacks portfolio - reduced fat Indian baked naan chips - come in three flavours; Creamy Korma, Classic Tikka and Fiery Madras.

This launch falls in line with observations in the Keynote report that manufacturers are dedicated to developing healthier snacks, for example baked and reduced salt varieties, while also catering to consumer demands for more exotic flavours.

The product targets women aged 30-45 and attempts to tap into the sharing trend, developed to be eaten with dips or in place of poppadoms or naan with a curry, Garlick said.

Global hopes?

Over the past six months, from February to July 2012, Warburtons’ snacks unit has seen a 43% sales surge compared to the previous six months (August 2011-January 2012).

Its snacks products are available in more than 3,500 sales outlets across all major retailers including Tesco, Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Waitrose as well as independent stores, and there are plans to increase this by 1,000 over the next two months.

Warburtons Snacks is also looking into export opportunities, Garlick revealed, with products on trial for several markets from summer 2012.

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