Lifting the Lid on Biscuit Tins!

That said, there’s no room for complacency within the sector and faced with more competition than ever from the own-brand segment, brands need to ensure they offer ‘something special’ in order to end up part of the weekly shop. Fortunately, they have more than stepped up to the mark, as Gillian Hamill reports


Brand Central

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27 September 2016

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Worth approximately €170m per year, Ireland’s biscuit category has seen brands face fierce competition from private label variants in recent years. Nevertheless, the bestsellers continue to maintain brand loyalty by concentrating on quality and innovation, in formats that are convenient for families throughout their day-to-day lives.

A recent report by Bord Bia found that across Ireland, consumers average 2.5 snacks per day. Research suggests that despite an increase in the popularity of healthy snacks, biscuits are still a popular category, especially among the 40+ category*. Biscuits are far from being just a hit with the older crowd through. Classic and vintage varieties such as bourbon creams and custard creams are still popular choices among younger consumers too. In fact, research reveals that six in ten respondents aged 16-24 disagreed that older biscuit varieties are “boring”.

A study conducted last November by Dunnhumby also found that the ‘classics’ retain a major draw. Analysing the top selling biscuits in Tesco stores across Ireland over a 52-week period, the results revealed that milk chocolate digestives take the top spot both nationally and
regionally followed by chocolate chip cookies. The savoury biscuit category has also enjoyed growth in recent years, as consumers seek healthier alternatives. That said, never underestimate the appeal of indulgence! This season, a plethora of lifestyle books will be hitting our bookshelves about the Danish art of enjoying ‘hygge’. This loosely translates as ‘cosiness’ – the reinvigorating power of nestling away in a candlelit home while storms rage outside – and enjoying little treats. Naturally a cuppa with a biccie slots in perfectly to this growing consumer trend.

*(Source: Bord Bia snacking report, March 2014)

Creating category excitement

McVitie's has expanded into the free-from sector with two new productsLifting the lid on biscuit tins! Enjoyed by Irish families for generations, McVitie’s is a much-loved iconic biscuit brand. The brand has been continuously focusing on product quality, winning innovation and a strong support plan. 2016 is the year McVitie’s brings several new products that are guaranteed to create some excitement into the biscuit category.

Driving the on-the-go trend further, McVitie’s is also launching new ‘To Go’ snack packs this June. The To Go range is available to stock in two formats; a multipack and individual on-the-go portion packs. Within the multipack range, shoppers will be able to choose from three variants – McVitie’s
Original, Milk Chocolate Digestives, as well as McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Hobnobs. The individual on-the-go packs of two biscuits will be available for Milk Chocolate Digestives and Milk Chocolate Hobnobs.

Another exciting part of the McVitie’s 2016 innovation plan is expansion into the free-from sector with a launch of two new products – McVitie’s Gluten-Free Original Hobnobs and McVitie’s Gluten-Free Milk Chocolate Hobnobs. Rolling out in-store since August, the new range is designed to give all consumers the chance to enjoy a McVitie’s moment. The high proportion of naturally gluten-free oats in McVitie’s Hobnobs allows the recipe to be converted without any compromise on the biscuits’ great signature taste and crumbly texture.

The major innovation for the brand this year has been new Digestives Nibbles, offering the well-loved taste of the number one McVitie’s Digestive biscuit range in a chocolatey bitesize format. This innovation is the first result of the synergy between McVitie’s and its Turkish parent company Yildiz Holding, which acquired the brand in 2015. More recently this has all been brought under a new global company, Pladis. The new entity also includes internationally recognised brands Godiva, a leading premium chocolate brand worldwide and Ulker, the leading biscuits and confectionery brand in Turkey and the Middle East. Together they form a $5.2bn business, positioning Pladis as a global leader in the category, enabling McVitie’s to use it as a platform for more innovations.

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

Baking Better Biscuits

East Coast Bakehouse's range offers four cookies - Choc Chunk, Caramel & Pecan, Choc Enrobed Choc Chunk and Stem Ginger & Choc ChunkEast Coast Bakehouse, Ireland’s newest biscuit brand has recently launched with four tasty cookies – Choc Chunk, Caramel & Pecan, Choc Enrobed Choc Chunk and Stem Ginger & Choc Chunk. The range was launched and tasted by thousands of consumers at Bloom 2016 and got a universal thumbs up.

Made with Irish butter and Irish oats and proudly baked in Drogheda by a team of biscuit bakers, East Coast Bakehouse is targeting Irish biscuit lovers who are seeking better biscuits with quality ingredients, as well as switching consumers from imported biscuits, which account for 99% of biscuits sold in Ireland.

Baking biscuits that people love is the number one priority at East Coast Bakehouse and the company wants to produce biscuits with just that bit extra that will get people talking. Its Stem Ginger & Choc Chunk was selected as a result of over 2,000 taste tests at Bloom and its Choc Chunk Cookie is a Blas na hÉireann finalist.

With a strong launch budget of over €250,000 that includes radio, sampling, digital, PR and shopper marketing, East Coast Bakehouse aims to capture a significant share of the growing cookie segment. Available in 12 x 160g shelf-ready packaging and with an RRP of €2.40 – €2.55, the East Coast Bakehouse range is firmly targeted at the mainstream biscuit consumer.

More exciting East Coast Bakehouse biscuit launches across the biscuit category will follow over the coming months.

Ireland’s newsiest biscuit brand

oh-my-200gThe new kid on the biscuit block is OhMy!, a Choc Chip Cookie that offers great taste and value for consumers of the mainstream cookie market. The distinctive playful red logo and association with Love Irish Food ensures that consumers will make this a shopping basket regular. This 24 x 200g Choc Chip Cookie is competitively priced with a RRP of €1.29.

oh-my-185g-half-coatedWith the nights drawing in and Halloween and Christmas just around the corner, Irish biscuit lovers can now share their favourite OhMy! Choc Chip cookies in the new 700g share tub (RRP €5.99), so nobody goes without their favourite cookie.

OhMy! is bringing innovation to the mainstream biscuit category with a half-coated Choc Chip Cookie, the 185g x 24 cookie retails at €1.49 and is unique in the category with more innovations planned in 2017.

Q&A with . . .DARAGH MONAHAN: Commercial Director, East Coast Bakehouse

daraghQ: What products are included in East Coast Bakehouse’s portfolio – how are these innovative and how do they stand out from competitors’ offerings?

A: We’re launching the East Coast Bakehouse biscuit range initially with four cookies, Ginger Choc Chunk, Caramel & Pecan, Choc Chunk and Chocolate Enrobed Choc Chunk. All contain pure Irish butter, and are made in our bakehouse in Drogheda.

We’ll follow that with further launches across the biscuit category, all made in Ireland, and all using Irish butter.

Q: How have you managed to combine the right quality with an attractive RRP for retailers?

A: Our recipes include great Irish ingredients, Irish butter and Irish oats, which really deliver in terms of taste and quality. ‘Baking Better Biscuits’ is our mantra, and we’re committed to living up to that every day. We’re a mainstream brand; the range is competitively priced, aiming to entice Irish biscuit lovers to pop East Coast Bakehouse biscuits into the trolley regularly.

Q: How do you ensure you source the best possible ingredients for your products?

A: We’ve been working closely with suppliers over the past year, ensuring that we source as many quality local Irish ingredients as we can. We’re also keen to ensure that our ingredients are from sustainable sources, and our quality systems are challenging our suppliers to raise their quality standards even further.

Q: Last year, East Coast Bakehouse told ShelfLife that: “Of the €3 million of biscuits eaten in Ireland every week, 99.9% of that is brought into Ireland.” How significant is East Coast Bakehouse’s contribution to Ireland’s economy?

A: Since we started production in Drogheda, we’ve created 38 new jobs with a plan to reach 100 jobs when we reach full capacity, subject to getting the support of our customers. We’re also sourcing Irish ingredients when possible, and working closely with many local service providers. The business has re-developed the bakehouse site, transforming a previously dilapidated and abandoned building into a state-of-the-art food production facility.

Again, local contractors and service providers have been instrumental in delivering the project, on budget and ontime! We’re aiming to reduce significantly the imports of biscuits by offering a great locally baked biscuit range, and we also anticipate that a significant proportion of our production volume will be exported.

Our Baker’s Dozen fund will collaborate with and benefit local food charities. East Coast Bakehouse is 100% Irish-owned, with revenues staying in Ireland, benefitting the local economy.

Q: Why do you feel it is important to offer an Irish biscuit option?

A: As we mentioned, almost all of the biscuits currently on retailers’ shelves are imported. We Irish love our biscuits….we’re near the top of the list in terms of per capita consumption, so we believe it’s important to offer Irish biscuit lovers a range of locally baked biscuits. We’re keen to expand the range, offering a broad product range across the category, delivering real choice to the Irish consumer.

Q: How significantly will you be investing in marketing East Coast Bakehouse’s portfolio?

A: We’re investing in a national brand launch programme, with emphasis on social media, a strong advertising campaign and an ambitious sampling plan to get East Coast Bakehouse biscuits into the hands of Irish biscuit lovers! We’re confident that the launch will result in strong consumer demand that will keep retailers’ tills ringing.

More yum per crumb

foxsFox’s says it is proud to be a champion of generosity and deliciousness, baking a unique blend of quality and quirkiness into every biscuit. The company believes that using liberal amounts of the best ingredients creates the tastiest possible product – an approach Fox’s calls ‘More yum per crumb’. Here is the line-up.


fox2-editFox’s Chunkie is the thickest, most indulgent cookie there is, according to the brand. Fox’s extra-deep cookie dough is baked chockfull of generous chunks of milk chocolate for a biscuit that can satisfy even the growliest stomach.

Chocolatey is a naughty but oh-so-nice crumbly shortcake enrobed in thick, decadent chocolate for
a treat that’s pure indulgence.

   Viennese is about timeless recipes, traditional flavours and beautiful biscuits. Consumers can drift off into Viennese heaven for the ultimate ‘me time’.

foxcc-editCrunch Creams is the cream of the crunch. Two perfectly crunchy biscuits sandwiched together with a generous layer of the creamiest cream filling. Goes beautifully with a cuppa. Jam ‘n Cream is a fruity, oozy real raspberry jam swirled with thick, fluffy vanilla fox4-editcream and squished between two crumbly shortcake biscuits. The perfect combination!

fox3Every day’s a party with Party Rings. Crunchy biscuit rings with a crispy, colourful icing top; they are perfect finger food – mainly because they fit on one! There is a Party Ring for every occasion, big and mini.

Rocky is the biscuit bar of champions, according to Fox’s. Rough, rugged and encased in thick milk chocolate, Rocky is a biscuit bar with attitude, ideal for keeping the mighty cravings at bay.

New gluten free shortbread

Walkers Shortbread, purveyor of ‘The World’s Finest Shortbread’, adds to its extensive collection with a brand new certified Gluten Free range ensuring everyone can enjoy the simplicity and luxurious taste that the company states sets it apart from anything else.

1020-product-packWalkers Gluten Free range is baked with only the finest quality ingredients combined with the company’s world class craftsmanship. This ensures that no compromise is made, enabling all gluten intolerant consumers the chance to enjoy the same great tasting pure butter shortbread as expected in every pack of Walkers Shortbread. Established over a hundred years ago in Aberlour, Scotland, Walkers Shortbread is still an independent family concern to this day and faithfully maintains the tradition of producing ‘The World’s Finest Shortbread’ to original recipes using only the finest ingredients – a policy that has earned Walkers a global reputation for quality and excellence.

1021-product-packWalkers Shortbread is distributed across Ireland by Stafford Lynch. Contact Stafford Lynch for product or sales enquiries.

A portfolio of success stories

While Jacob’s states it is delighted to be the number one biscuit brand in Ireland – no stone is left unturned when it comes to finding out what Jacob’s fans love most. Whether you enjoy licking the jam from the centre of a Mikado or nibbling the first bite of chunky chocolate from a Club Milk, consumers have been enjoying Jacob’s for more than 160 years.

snoconut-creams-2016In 2015 Jacob’s experienced growth across a broad range of products from fond favourites such as Elite to the new Mediterranean delights, Mediterraneo Tapas Crackers. Jacob’s fans are keen to enjoy new experiences with the brand and more recent launches encourage just that.

Jacob’s Chockies cream-filled cookies can be picked apart to reveal a creamy centre while Caffè di Milano, delicate Italian style wafers, bring the taste of Italy to the comfort of your own home. To date, both have proven to be great success stories for the brand.

chocolate-collection2016 brings with it even more exciting plans. Christmas will see the launch of Jacob’s Chocolate Collection, a new premium fully-coated chocolate assortment, while the mallows range has been given a fun festive makeover with the introduction of Mistletoe Mikado, SnoConut Creams and KrisKimberly.

Meanwhile in savoury, Jacob’s will kick-off the New Year to a healthy start by introducing new lines to the CrispBread family. Building on the success of last year’s campaigns, Jacob’s will also continue to invest strongly in communications, reminding consumers of all the great ways to enjoy their snacks.

Check out the new Jacob’s website for even more tasty ideas. For more information visit: and


Farrington Foods

Farringford Foods is a small family-run company specialising in wrapping single portion bakery products such as muffins, cookies, and cake slices.

farringford-foods-gallery-6-august-2016Having bought Graces Irish Biscuits, Farringford Foods now also produces the Graces range of shamrock shaped shortbread and oatmeal biscuits. Using both the Finn McCool and Graces brands, the company has developed customers in the food service and retail sectors throughout Ireland and Great Britain and North America.

Product range: Muffins, Shortbreads, Cookies, Cake slices, Graces Irish Biscuits

Contact details: Simon C Lamb, Sales director, 82 Jervis Street, Portadown, County Armagh, BT62 3HD, Northern Ireland
+44 (0) 28 3833 3138
+44 (0) 79 0402 0337




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