Indulgence and health polarising global sweet biscuit market, research finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 7th May 2012

The global sweet biscuit market is seeing two opposing forces at work, according to research just published market research company Innova Market Insights.

The image of biscuits being a ‘treat’ is driving the premium sector forward, while rising health concerns have raised interest in better-for-you products.

Biscuits with some sort of chocolate content accounted for a 48 per cent of the global sweet biscuit launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2011. This was down from over 60 per cent recorded five years previously, perhaps reflecting the greater choice of biscuit varieties and flavours now on offer.

According to Innova, chocolate biscuits have been one of the main beneficiaries of rising interest in the ‘treat’ image of biscuits and the market has continued to see growth in most countries despite ongoing financial and health concerns.

Innova’s research manager Lu Ann Williams said, “Chocolate biscuits do have strong competition, not only from other types of biscuits but also from other sweet snacking lines, such as confectionery, cereal bars and cakes.

“The treat image of chocolate and the relatively inexpensive nature of many of the products means that they can have wide appeal both as store cupboard and impulse items. However, many are also suitable both for in-home and on-the-go consumption.

“It is these characteristics, combined with high levels of product and promotional activity, that have kept the market performing relatively well during a time of economic difficulty.”

Health claims a factor in purchasing decisions

Innova’s research suggests that companies have been endeavouring to improve the nutritional profile of their standard products in many instances, which may have inhibited growth in the ‘healthier’ or ‘better-for-you’ biscuits market.

Nearly 30 per cent of global biscuit launches recorded by Innova in 2011 were positioned on a health platform of some kind, rising to over 40 per cent for savoury biscuits and falling to just over a quarter for sweet biscuits.

The research found that the most popular health claims were those relating to naturalness and the lack of artificial additives or preservatives.

The next most popular positioning was ‘low’ and ‘light’ (including ‘low-sugar’, ‘low-sodium’, ‘low-calorie’ and ‘low-fat’ claims). The use of whole grains took third place, followed by gluten-free lines and organic products.

According to Innova, the number of products marketed as gluten-free is continuing to rise globally, and biscuits have been fairly central to this growth.

Launches of biscuits marketed on a gluten-free platform accounted for over 4 per cent of total biscuit launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2011.

Ms Williams said, “The strong growth in activity is partly due to improved labelling regulations, but also to rising awareness of gluten intolerance in the diet and the search for more mainstream and appealing gluten-free products.