Innovation in the biscuit tin

Wagon Wheels has undergone a £2.5 million re-launch to promote the brand to a new generation
Wagon Wheels has undergone a £2.5 million re-launch to promote the brand to a new generation

David Corscadden explains how the Irish biscuit sector has already experienced strong growth in 2012 with new product developments driving the sector forward


Brand Central

11 July 2012

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At A Glance: Biscuits  

  • In 2011 the biscuit sector was worth €176 million*
  • *(Source: Nielson Scantrack)
  • Burton’s has invested £2.5 million in re-launching Wagon Wheels
  • Jacobs is the number one leading biscuit company with volume share of 23%*
  • *(Source: Nielsen Extended Scantrack, MAT 22nd April 2012)
  • Four Fig Rolls are eaten every two minutes
  • Fox’s Biscuits has launched a €1 range
  • In 2011 26,000 tones* of biscuits were sold in Ireland
  • *(Source: Nielson Scantrack)
  • McVities has launched the first recycling and fundraising scheme in Ireland
  • Belvita continues to grow as Ireland’s leading breakfast biscuit provider
  • Nestle holds a 27.2%* value share of the chocolate biscuit bar segment
  • * (Source: AC Nielsen Scantrack  w/e 20th May 2012)
  • Rolo and Aero milk biscuits have achieved combined sales of €1 million since their launch in 2011
  • Quality and high standards have seen O’Haras of Foxford prosper for 60 years

It would not be surprising to say that the Irish biscuit and cake sector has suffered with consumers being increasingly concerned about healthy food options on top of the current economic climate. However in 2011, eur*176 million worth of biscuits were sold in Ireland and this figure looks set to grow with innovation planned for the sector and new product launches in 2012. A health conscious consumer is clearly at the back of biscuit manufacturers’ minds when it comes to new product development. Many brands are now offering buyers a suitable alternative to traditional biscuits without losing the indulgence factor of the sector. It will not be new products alone that will help to drive the biscuit sector during the year, old favourites are getting new leases of life with packaging re-designs and extensive new promotion drives aimed at attracting new buyers to the brands.

Out of this world

Burton’s has a long-standing tradition in the biscuit market with the company dating back to George Burton who began to produce biscuits in the 1800s. The company’s most iconic range, Wagon Wheels, has announced a £2.5 million re-launch, designed to make the brand appeal to a new teenage generation.

The chocolate coated biscuit snack, of which Burton’s says 125 million of are eaten each year, has been popular for over 60 years. First launched in 1948 the snack is getting a facelift that includes a new and improved recipe, a limited edition new caramel flavour to join the other flavours, original and jammie, in brand new packaging that is designed to stand out on shelves.

Burton’s is moving away from its traditional theme of Cowboys and Indians that was popular in 1948 and is developing a theme which focuses on a sense of adventure incorporating space and UFO based themes. The new concept focuses on three teenagers who have stumbled across what they believe is the secret behind Wagon Wheels’ marshmallow center.

Through social media including, Burton’s aims to attract a new generation of consumers who are fuelled by the suspense and mystery of the brand. Based on a belief there is a connection between Wagon Wheels’ creation and an UFO landing in America the year before, three teenagers set out to discover the truth behind the biscuit’s marshmallow center. The new theme focuses on catching teenagers’ attention with an alluring storyline introducing a younger consumer base to a revitalised brand.

Wagon Wheels are available in packs of six individually wrapped biscuits in three flavours, original, jammie and its new limited edition caramel flavour. Available nationwide with a RRP of €1.00, the chocolate coated biscuit aims to hold its position as self-proclaimed Ireland’s favourite lunch box sized treat.

Have a biscuit – save the planet

United Biscuits, the manufacturer of McVitie’s, has teamed up with TerraCycle Ireland to launch the McVitie’s Biscuit Wrapper Brigade. TerraCycle is the world’s leader in the collection and reuse of non-recyclable post-consumer waste. It repurposes waste into new eco-friendly materials and products that are available online and through major retailers.

A first in the industry, the recycling and fundraising scheme will save biscuit wrappers from Irish landfill sites, and is open to every biscuit consumer across Ireland. In 2011 26,000 tonnes* of biscuits were sold with many of the biscuit wrappers going straight into landfill. The new scheme started on 18 June, allows consumers to send biscuit wrappers to Terracycle Ireland to help reduce waste and raise funds for the charity of their choice.

The McVitie’s Biscuit Wrapper Brigade is open to consumers across Ireland who can get involved for free at Once registered, they can download pre-paid An Post labels and post old wrappers to Terracycle completely free of charge. Consumers will be rewarded with TerraCycle points for every biscuit wrapper sent in, with each point redeemable as a one cent contribution to the charity of the senders’ choice. The recycling and fundraising event will see a huge promotion drive in the coming months to encourage consumers and retailers to get behind the scheme.

* (Source: Nielson Scantrack) 

New adaptations of family favourites

Nestlé which says it is the market leader in the chocolate biscuit bar segment with a 27.2%* value share has experienced further growth this year through a number of new product. The most recent launch in the Nestlé range, Kit Kat cookies and cream two finger, is a combination of wafer together with cookies and cream flavour encased in milk and white chocolate.

Nestlé is further building on the success of its 2011 Aero biscuit launch with the introduction of two new flavour variants – Aero mint and Aero orange biscuit. The new products are a combination of creamy milk chocolate, Aero mint or orange flavoured bubbles and crunchy biscuit pieces and all for just 99 calories. Each pack contains seven individually wrapped bars and has an RRP of €2.45**

2011 has also seen the launch of the Rolo biscuit, a combination of soft Rolo caramel and crunchy pieces in individually wrapped biscuits. These treat sized biscuits are individually wrapped and are increasing in popularity with families. Both Rolo and Aero Milk Biscuit have been very successful for Nestlé, delivering combined sales of over €1m since launch in 2011. 

*(Source: AC Nielsen Scantrack  w/e 20th May 2012)

**RRPs are recommendations only. Pricing remains at the sole discretion of the retailer 

Tradition meets innovation

Jacob’s Biscuits has a long standing tradition in the Irish biscuit market with over 150 years of experience. The company says it is Ireland’s number one leading biscuit brand with a volume share of 23% in the Irish market*. This success has been driven by new product introductions and product re-launches as well as strong promotional activity both in Ireland and abroad.

Jacobs’s mallow range which includes Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Creams biscuits, continues to be one of Ireland’s favourite ranges with a 87% value share*. This growth was supported by an extensive TV advertising and promotional campaign. Continued sponsorship of the Big Big Movie on RTE 1 will continue to grow the brand’s popularity and drive families to the mallows range. A strong outdoor campaign paired with a digital campaign later in the year will support and encourage growth this year.

Jacob’s Elite brand has grown 7% in value* showing Irish consumers are still indulging in special treats. The Elite brand which launched in 2011 as a re-launch of chocolate Kimberly has proven popular with consumers, making it one of the fastest growing brands in the sector. Jacob’s has continued to drive this growth with the launch of chocolate Mikado and increased consumer demand. In 2012 Jacob’s is to add two extensions to the range with Elite Chocolate Mousse launched in June and Elite Chocolate Coconut Cream to launch in September. This will complete Jacob’s fully chocolate-coated offerings of the famous mallow trio Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Cream under the Elite brand.

In August 2011, Jacob’s launched its Why Not? range of  indulgent treat bars. Designed for the health conscious snacker, the bars have under 100 calories per bar. The Why Not? range is available in three varieties; Fruit & Nut, Chewy Chocolate and Chocolate & Orange, in boxes containing six bars with a RRP of €2.79. The range has launched successfully into the health sector that is the fastest growing segment of the biscuit market.

Old favourites such as Jacob’s Marietta, Lincoln, Gingernut, Polo and Nice biscuits continue to be firm family favourites in Ireland’s second largest biscuit category. Jacob’s Fig Rolls continue to be the brand’s most popular biscuits with its website claiming four Fig Rolls are eaten every two minutes. Growth has been achieved through strong promotional packs, new pack graphics as well as strong in-store display.

*(Source: Nielsen Extended Scantrack, MAT 22nd April 2012)

Old favourites and new friends

Fox’s biscuits are proving to be a popular choice for shoppers and store owners. In 2012 the brand  launched a €1 flashed range in the of creams including rich tea creams, jam creams, jam chocolate orange creams, nice creams, malted milk creams and party rings. Fox’s have also introduced their two new premium products, Fox’s Velvety caramel honeycomb cream and Fox’s Velvety chocolate fudge cream to be supported with strong promotions.

In the chocolate biscuit bars area, Fox’s has launched its Rocky variety bag of Rocky bars. The bag includes five bars of each of the Rocky variants and is proving a huge success in planned promotions for back to school and Halloween. Fox’s has also extended its Amber biscuits into two new Amber bars in both original and caramel variants.

Fox’s biscuits aim to offer great quality biscuits, at affordable prices, small case sizes that are ideal for the convenience sector, heavyweight promotional support, on the ground sales support and innovation in the biscuit category.


A family secret

For over 60 years, Mayo based firm, O’Hara’s of Foxford, has been producing its own range of Irish owned bread and cakes. One of the leaders in this area the family run business is committed to quality, best practice and continuous improvement throughout the organisation.

The company founded in 1951, still owned and run by the O’Hara family, holds quality and hygiene in high regard, going by the motto  “Care in the making…Care in the baking”. It is this care for quality which has helped the company prosper over the last six decades. The company produces over 100 confectionery and 40 bread products 


which include madeira cake, farmhouse cake, fruit queen cakes and chocolate chip queen cakes as well as the wide range of traditional bread and sliced pans.

O’Hara’s wide range of cakes enjoys national distribution and are available in most retail outlets throughout the country. For more information on the range of products produced by O’Hara’s visit


Breakfast biscuits prove a hit with on the go consumers


Petra Ryan, biscuits brand manager, Kraft Foods, explains Belvita breakfast biscuits’ success in Ireland

Petra Ryan, biscuits brand manager, Kraft Foods, explains Belvita breakfast biscuits’ success in Ireland

Belvita breakfast biscuits have created a niche in the Irish market by offering an on-the-go consumer a healthy alternative to breakfast on the go. Promoted as a balanced breakfast the range has been designed to slowly release energy.

On the back of an extensive promotional drive which saw staff at pop-up stands at Luas stops across Dublin hand commuter’s samples of Belvita milk and cereal breakfast bars, Petra Ryan, biscuits brand manager, Kraft Foods explains the brands growing success in the Irish breakfast biscuit market.

What’s the big news this year for your biscuit brands?

The big news this year has been the phenomenal success of Belvita breakfast biscuits. We launched in the Irish market less than two years ago, and this year has seen fantastic growth for the brand. There has been strong marketing this year including TV, outdoor, radio and a strong sampling campaign.

June saw the launch of the Belvita pop-up shop for two weeks at key Luas stations giving commuters the chance to trial Belvita breakfast biscuits each morning. January saw three NPDs added to the brand – museli, forrest fruits and honey yogurt crunch with more introductions to follow.

In the current economic climate, how essential has value-for-money/price promotions become within the biscuit category?

Like many categories, both value for money and price promotions are important to drive incremental purchases for the category. With the current economic conditions, consumers are constantly looking for value for money and it is important that we offer this. Value for money and price promotions are slightly different things though – value for money is all about the shopper believing that they have gotten perceived value for their purchase while price promotion is a tactical mechanic used at certain times to reward loyal customers with even further value for money and to bring in new customers through driving trial through a lower price offer.

What advice would you offer retailers to help continue drive sales in your category?

Innovation is proving critical to category growth, emerging segments such as breakfast biscuits are bringing new shoppers into the category. Belvita has attracted €500,000 of its retail value by attracting new shoppers into the segment. New pack formats tailored for ‘on the go’ consumption are also driving new occasions and sales for the biscuit category outside the traditional take home consumption. It is important to have correct product placement in store, Belvita sells well when placed beside coffee stands.

How extensively will you be investing in marketing / NPD for over the coming year?

Kraft will continue to invest strongly in marketing and NPD over the coming year. Both Belvita and Oreo will continue to see an investment in terms of NPD and marketing investment in order to continue the strong growth, and to also further drive awareness and loyalty for the Kraft brands. Belvita sees the launch of three further NPD variants this year, strawberry yogurt crunch, cranberry and raspberry jam adding choice and variety to the range to meet wide ranging consumer tastes. 



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