UB aims to drive snack growth with packaging revamp and saturated fat reduction

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United biscuits, Biscuit

Britain's biggest biscuit producer, United Biscuits, is aiming to drive growth across the biscuit and cake categories in 2011 through reformulation of products for a stronger health positioning as well as updating packaging, amid ongoing divesture talks.

Sarah Heynen, marketing director of Sweet Biscuits at the UK firm, said: “Sales of biscuits have remained resilient within the snacking category throughout 2010 with the biscuit market now worth £2.3bn and growing by a promising 3 per cent.

UB’s range of activity scheduled for the New Year will continue to build on these successes and help retailers drive incremental sales within the biscuit category​.”

More contemporary packaging is also on the cards for its leading crisp range, McCoy’s, which has retail sales of £96m, as well as its Phileas Fogg line. And next year will also see, continued the snack producer, a further saturated fat reduction across the McCoy range.

George Johnston, marketing director of the bagged snacks division at UB commented: “Sales of bagged snacks have remained strong over the last year in a market that’s now worth £2.4bn and showing healthy growth of 6 per cent.

UB’s activity planned for next year will help to continue to drive category growth throughout 2011, said the marketing director.

"By refreshing the packaging across both the Phileas Fogg and McCoy’s ranges, as well as adding new variants, the ranges will have greater stand out on shelf and encourage impulse purchases,"​ said Johnston.

He added that the 30 per cent saturated fat reduction across the McCoy’s range also demonstrates UB’s sustained commitment to producing products that meet continuing consumer demand for healthier snacks.

The biscuit and cake producer saw good performance last year with revenues of £1.26bn but had a tougher time of it in 2010 with aggressive targets set by its owners.

Meanwhile, new owners are being sought for the UK firm after the private equity owners of the firm ended exclusive talks with Chinese food giant Bright Food Group, opening the field to new bidders, it was reported last month.

The news is said to open up a possible £2bn ($3.2bn) sale of the Jaffa cake maker.

It is speculated to that US food groups Kraft, Campbell Soup Co and Kellogg's, which all looked at UB before Chinese food group Bright Food entered exclusive talks, are likely to be invited back into the process after the Shanghai-based group failed to come through with a formal offer.

US investment firm Blackstone and French buyout specialist PAI Partners, which have co-owned UB since 2006, are now opening up talks to other potential bidders, according to The Times.

Blackstone and PAI considered a sale of the business last summer, however the Chinese state-backed, Bright Food pre-empted an auction by offering up to £2.5bn for exclusive talks. However talks crumbled when Bright Food failed to match its high initial offer, a source said.

Related topics: Manufacturers, Health, Smart Packaging

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