Biscuit sector driven by health and indulgence

The health and indulgence categories take the biscuit for top sales

Global biscuit manufacturers are responding to consumers’ contradictory demands by launching new products targeting both health and indulgence, according to market research firm, Innova Market Insights.

Most new biscuits launched last year appealed to consumers by either being good-for-you products or indulgent treats, said the firm.

Nearly a third (30%) of new product launches in the global biscuit sector targeted health-conscious consumers.

About 25% of sweet biscuit launches were positioned as healthy products and this rose to over 40% for the savoury category.

The most popular marketing messages for biscuit products in the healthy category referred to ‘naturalness’ – especially the absence of artificial additives or preservatives. This reflects growing consumer interest in clean labels, said Innova.

Clean labels

Over 30% of good-for-you-products involved clean-label claims. This accounted for 12% of all global biscuit launches.

But product reformulation by food manufacturers did partially weaken the good-for-you segment of the biscuit market, said Innova.

“Companies have been endeavouring to improve the nutritional profile of their standard products in many instances. This may have inhibited growth in the specific healthier or better-for-you biscuits market.”

The indulgent biscuit market has continued to grow in most countries, despite the economic downturn and growing concerns surrounding diet and rising obesity levels.

The growth in the sector is probably due to consumers treating themselves to an indulgent product as a reward for choosing healthy meal options, said Lu Ann Williams, research manager for Innova Market Insights.


Chocolate biscuits accounted for the greatest proportion of new biscuit launches positioned as an indulgent treat. Almost half (48%) of global biscuit launches contained some sort of chocolate content last year, said Williams. However, this was down by 60% compared with new product launches five years ago. This probably reflects the greater choice of varieties and flavours already on offer, she added.

In the UK, the biscuit sector was worth an estimated £2.2bn in 2010 – according to market intelligence firm Mintel. It is forecasted to grow by 15% to reach £2.6bn by 2015.

Half-coated biscuits – such as chocolate digestives – and chocolate chip cookies are two of the most popular biscuit varieties in the UK, Mintel said. ‘Healthy’ biscuits accounted for £468M in 2010 sales.

Amy Lloyd, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, said: “The ritualistic nature of eating biscuits with a hot drink appeals to consumers, demonstrating how ingrained this occasion is within British culture.”


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