Barrelled over by biscuits!

The snacking category is one in which there is intense competition between brands and a constant need for innovation in order to retain consumer loyalty and grow sales. The world’s best-known brands regularly rise to the occasion as do newcomers to the segment, writes Doug Whelan


Brand Central

17 September 2018 | 0

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The sweet biscuit category in Ireland has seen steady growth in recent years, totalling €315m in 2016 and seeing 2% retail value growth in 2017*. This growth came despite brands facing the obstacle of negative press attention around snack products with high sugar content.

The fact is that responsible consumers are willing to enjoy such products in moderation as occasional or semi-regular indulgences. As a result, competition among brands is higher than ever, with brands coming through with new innovations every season. Flavour varieties, brand variations and limited-edition offerings are all regular occurrences, among new brands and family favourites alike.

*(Source: Euromonitor, Sweet Biscuits, Snack Bars and Fruit Snacks in Ireland, August 2017)

Heritage and quality

McVitie’s has always had strong credentials in baking on top of its iconic heritage delivering much-loved biscuits to Irish families over generations. The brand has been continuously focusing on product quality, winning innovation and a strong marketing plan both for NPD and its core range.

McVitie’s biscuit brands are some of the most recognisable and best-loved in the snack category

This year, the brand has been investing in ongoing TV support of the one and only Digestive range. This resulted in strong growth for both Original Digestives (+5.1% year-on-year) and Chocolate Digestives (+3.3% year-on-year)*.

Parent company Pladis (a global biscuitgiant which owns brands in more than 120 countries) also recently marked its ongoing commitment to unlocking new occasions for growth with the launch of McVitie’s Digestives Thins. A thin and light biscuit with a delicate crisp, covered in scrumptious chocolate, McVitie’s Thins lets consumers enjoy the taste of McVitie’s Digestives biscuits in a modern and more refined way.

This year, the range has been supported with TV advertising, and showed a strong growth of +32.2% (vs LY). The business is planning to extend a successful Thins franchise by adding a much loved crunchy Chocolate Hobnob variant and two extra chocolatey Choc Filled Thins, solid milk chocolate sandwiched between two crispy Digestive Thins. Rolling out in-store this month, the innovation will be available in Milk Chocolate and Double Chocolate variants.

Harnessing the power of the McVitie’s brand, Pladis continues to modernise and grow it by unlocking new occasions and creating fresh interest in biscuits to drive category growth and, therefore, sales for retailers.

*(Source: Total Scantrack ROI (Mult/ GRP/4CT), Year to Date April 22, 2018)

New classics

Ireland’s biscuit market is rising, with value sales of €297m growing at 2.5% year-on-year. The largest segment within the sweet biscuits sub-category is ‘everyday treats’, which is currently worth €51m.

Mar’s new cookie range was launched last year and has seen exceptional growth since then

In this segment, the Mars cookie range is performing well, with exceptional growth in sales since its launch in 2017. The cookies, valued at €144,000*, continue to drive incremental spend to the category.

Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats has recently introduced three new SKUs to the same category, as additions to its already successful range of branded biscuits. The Galaxy Chocolate Rounds and Galaxy Salted Caramel Rounds (RRP €2.49) are fully-coated biscuit treats, bringing a new look product to the range. Each pack includes eight delicate shortcakes smothered in silky smooth Galaxy chocolate, with Galaxy Salted Caramel Rounds containing a salted caramel shortcake biscuit.

Also joining the range is Twix Soft Centres, crunchy biscuits filled with oozing caramel and chocolate pieces. The full range also includes Galaxy Chocolate Cookies with smooth chocolate pieces and chocolate chunks, M&Ms Chocolate Cookies and BountySoft Baked Cookies with flakes of coconut and chocolate chunks.

Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats, says the company has seen the effect and strength of its brands in the biscuit category, and so knows how well they resonate with consumers. “By expanding the range and moving into the rapidly-growing special treat segment,” Frost says, “with Galaxy Rounds we believe we are creating new options for consumers that look good and taste great too!”

The special treat segment Frost mentions is worth €19m, up 9.4% year-on-year*, making it the fastest-growing segment with the exception of healthier options. The RRP for all these products is €2.49, available to order now from SHS Sales & Marketing. Call 014016200, email or visit

*(Source: Kantar Worldpanel Ireland, 52 weeks ending 15 July 2018)

Sip n’ snack

Launched in 2017, Iconic Biscuits was developed to fill the need for a locally-produced, Northern Irish biscuit on the international gift market. This year, the brand has a new range of biscuits designed for the home market, Boozie Biccies.

Boozie Biccie from Iconic Biscuits is a fun selection of treats developed using alcohol favourites

As one would expect from the name, Boozie Biccies is a fun selection of biscuits developed using alcohol favourites. They are made using local ingredients and suppliers and include Belfast Bolts, a malty beer-flavoured biscuit, Prosecco Knights and Vodka Bites.

Using a secret “cold fusion” process, the alcohol is retained during the manufacturing process, making them a strictly adults-only product, packed with flavour and ideal for repeat sales and special events alike. Michael Thompson, the creator of Iconic Biscuits, has been developing the new biscuits for almost a year. “I really wanted a product that was not only produced here,” he says, “but genuinely reflected the aspects of Northern Ireland we know and love. A lot of research went into the brand, with the Mourne Mountains appearing in the logo and Belfast Bolts being a direct result of research into the shipyard.

“I have plans to expand both the range of flavours,” Thompson adds, “and the representation of iconic Northern Ireland aspects.”

Boozie Biccies is backed by a social media campaign across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, with plans for in-store tasting events across Northern Ireland. Boozie Biccies are sold in 140g boxes, RRP from £2.99. To learn more, visit

Flourishing nourishment

Lifeforce has launched a brand new range of No Added Sugar Rice Cakes to its already hugely popular range of healthy snacking alternatives. The ‘No Added Sugar’ coated rice cake six-packs come in three variants: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Creamy Yogurt.

With no added sugar (and a total of just 0.1g per cake), these tasty treats are naturally sweetened using plant-based sweetener xylitol, making them suitable for both diabetics and vegetarians. They are suitable for stocking in the biscuit aisle or in a more healthy ‘on-the-go alternative’ position beside a coffee counter, with a view to promoting impulse purchases.

To order Lifeforce for stocking, you are invited to contact the Lifeforce team on 041 9870300 or email To learn more, visit

Moving up in the world

Since it launched onto the Irish biscuit market just two years ago, East Coast Bakehouse has established itself as a firm favourite with biscuit lovers across the country.

The comprehensive range of cookies and biscuits, baked in Drogheda with pure Irish butter, has received a highly positive response, achieving nationwide distribution with strong support from the retail trade at multiple, discounter and symbol group levels.

In that time, the brand has won a number of awards, including first, second and third places at the prestigious Blas na hÉireann taste awards 2017 and the Love Irish Food brand award 2017.

Meanwhile, East Coast Bakehouse’s range of cookies and plain biscuits has expanded recently, to be joined by the new Granola cookies and a food service range featuring an on-the-go twin cookie pack.

The twin cookie pack is now available on Aer Lingus flights, providing another profile boost for the East Coast Bakehouse brand. The products are also set to be supported by a 50% extra free promotion across the trade, with further launches planned as the East Coast Bakehouse brand grows ever-stronger in the Irish biscuit market.

The Black Pepper Cream Cracker is another contemporary twist on an iconic snack

Innovative icon

For 167 years now, Jacob’s has been a proud staple in Irish homes. As such, the brand says that it understands the ever-changing needs of Irish consumers, and continues to tailor its product range to those tastes and lifestyles.

As a means to offer fans and consumers new experiences in biscuits and snacks, this October will see Jacob’s launch new innovations from Elite, such as the arrival of a new ‘Special Moments’ range.

Jacobs’ trio of exciting new varieties taps into consumers’ desire for innovation and on-trend offerings

The exciting new launch brings on-trend flavours in the form of Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel and Chocolate & Nut Brownie. It is a premium-tier product which aims to drive penetration growth for Jacob’s in the special treats segment.

Each box of Special Moments contains eight chocolate-covered biscuits, filled with an indulgent soft centre. The launch is part of a rebrand on the core Elite range which will phase in later in the year, showcasing some indulgent Jacob’s recipes on-pack.

In the savoury category, Jacob’s has also introduced tasty new Jacob’s Cracked Black Pepper Cream Crackers, in a move that sees the quintessential Jacob’s classic updated with a modern peppery twist.

This year, Jacob’s has continued to invest strongly in communications, reminding consumers of the brand’s extensive range but also the variety of ways in which it can be enjoyed. This month, Jacobs will be back on TV, outdoor and digital channels reminding people that even though the brand has been around for a while, it is still very much a part of Irish consumer’s lives today.

For more information, visit or find the brand on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.



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