Annual biscuit review

Top 10 launches of 2017 – a great year for McVitie’s Digestive Thins

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

pladis annual biscuit review reports 2017 was 'An innovative year for biscuits'. Pic: pladis
pladis annual biscuit review reports 2017 was 'An innovative year for biscuits'. Pic: pladis

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Following a turbulent 2016, Brits are back to eating biscuits with gusto, with McVitie’s Digestives Thins and Mondelēz’s Oreo Thins taking up position in the Top 10 new FMCG launches of 2017.

According to UK biscuit producer pladis, UK sales of the biscuit category grew by 2.6% to £2.49bn ($3.5bn) in 2017. The sweet biscuit category saw a 2.9% increase in sales to £2.04bn ($2.86bn), while the savory category sales grew by 1.1% to £456m ($641m).

The McVitie’s maker – which maintained its position at the UK’s biggest biscuits manufacturer with a 2.4% sales growth to £440m ($618m), ahead of Mondelēz, Nestlé and Fox’s – reported the sales growth was seen across all channels.

Top 10 Take Home UK brand launches of 2017

1L'OrInstant Cofee£48m
2Whiskas CasserolePets£21m
3Vanish PlatinumDetergent£16m
4McVitie's Chocolate Digestive ThinsBiscuits£15m
5Warburtons Toastie PocketsBakery£13m
6Haagen Daz SticksIce Cream£11m
7Purina DentalifePets£9m
8Oreo ThinsBiscuits£8m
9Weetabix AdditionsCereals£8m
10Muller Light KremasDairy£7m

McVitie’s was the only major brand to show an increase in sales – up 1.3% to £349m ($490m) – however, the overall biscuit category was highly innovative in 2017 and saw two biscuit brands swoop up fourth and eighth position respectively in the Top 10 Take Home brand launches of 2017.

McVitie’s Digestives Thins also nabbed the title of the Biggest Sweet Launch in a decade with sales worth £17m ($23.9m) to date.

Top 10 UK biscuit brands

RankingBrandSales% Change% Share
5Kit Kat£82m-1.6%3.3%
8go ahead!£51m+13.8%2.0%
10Nature Valley£45m+22.0%1.8%

“As the number one brand in the category, we need to ensure that biscuits remain relevant to today’s ever changing consumers, using our power brands such as McVitie’s Digestives, Hobnobs and Jaffa Cakes to drive innovation,”​ said James Thomas, customer marketing director at pladis UK & Ireland.

Top 10 UK Sweet Biscuit brands

ProductSales% Change% Share
1Kit Kat£81m-1.6%4.0%
2McVitie's Chocolate Digestives£68m-3.6%3.3%
3McVitie's Jaffa Cakes£38m-2.4%2.0%
4Belvita Breakfast Biscuits£36m+1.5%1.8%
5Cadbury Brunch Bars£32m+0.8%1.6%
6McVitie's Digestives£29m-3.3%1.4%
7McVitie's Club£29m+4.8%1.4%
8Alpen Light Cereal Bars£28m+6.1%1.4%
9Tunnock's Caramel Wafer£26m+0.6%1.3%
10Cadbury Fingers£23m-17.4%-1.1%

The McVitie’s and Jacobs maker’s annual biscuit review also reported Healthier Biscuits and the more traditional segments of Everyday Biscuits (up 3.3% at £305m - $428m) and Everyday Treats (up 8.3% at £417m - $586m) drove growth in the Sweet Biscuit sub-segment.

Top 10 UK Savory Biscuit brands

1Ryvita Crispbread£21m-4.1%4.7%
2Jacob's Cream Crackers£20m+8.8%4.4%
3Kallo Rice Cakes£15m+12.8%3.3%
4Nairns Oatcakes£15m+14.9%3.3%
5Jacob's Cheddars£14m-4.2%3.0%
6Quaker Snacks a Jacks Jumbo£14m-3.5%3.0%
7Ritz Crackers£11m-14.5%2.4%
8Jacob's Biscuits For Cheese£10m+38.6%2.2%
9Ryvita Crackerbread£9m-3.7%2.1%
10Tuc Sandwich£9m+23.7%2.0%

Savory Biscuit growth was dominated by toppable products such as Rice Cakes (up 8.6% at £73m - $102m ) and Cream Crackers (up 6.8% at £39m - $54m).

“[Jacobs] are the top brand in Savory Biscuits, bought by 75% of households and one of the fastest growing brands in Crisps and Snacks,”​ said Steve Monk, marketing director, Savory, pladis UK & Ireland.

Top 5 Own Label performers

RankingRetailerSales% Change% Share
3Marks & Spencer£117m+5.3%4.7%

The biscuit maker’s analysis of the UK market also reported that Own Label posted double-digit growth, with Tesco, Aldi and Lidl Own Label performing well.

“Own Label Biscuits has an important role to play as it offers both value and quality, and increasingly brings variety, innovation and premiumization to the category. There is huge diversity in Own Label from Value Basics to luxurious and innovative products that push category boundaries,”​ said Rachel Dixon, head of retailer brands, pladis UK & Ireland.

The snacking universe

According to pladis, UK consumers are shopping more frequently, but buying fewer items and spending more per trip.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets continue to command the biggest share of shoppers – and will continue to do so for some time yet – however, the shift towards online and discounters is fast becoming apparent.

Consumers are also undoubtedly snacking more frequently and today, anything from soup to sandwiches, tuna to toast can be defined as a snack.

However, Thomas believes biscuits are definitely cementing their role in the snacking universe.

“Biscuits are purchased by virtually all households in the UK and represent nearly a quarter of sales within core snack foods, with the average household busying the category nearly once a week,”​ he said.

“We believe the outlook for the biscuit category is positive as the UK’s love affair with biscuits continues.”

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