Crunch time in the gluten-free market

gluten-free

Price-marks and gluten-free options are driving cake and biscuit sales, writes Nikki Allen 

With shoppers now more price-savvy than ever before, offering value for money in the biscuits, cakes and desserts category is vital if wholesalers want to grow sales, say suppliers. 
Value for money: Customers are getting price savvy
Fast gluten-free facts
  • 78% of people think outlets could offer more gluten-free options
  • 55% of people think supermarkets could cater for gluten-free more
  • 11% of UK consumers who are intolerant or sensitive to gluten or actively avoid gluten for lifestyle reasons
  • The gluten-free market has a 37% share of bakery goods
  • The market is estimated to grow 46% by 2017

Julien Lacrampe, trade marketing manager at Bahlsen Biscuits, says price is by far the biggest trend at the moment: “This trend is growing even more, since the major multiples are continuing their price-war, determined to represent the best value for shoppers.

“By capitalising on price-marked packs (PMPs) that sell, wholesalers can increase their activity. For example, Bahlsen’s Hit 99p PMP range has sold more than a packet a minute over the past 12 months in the convenience channel.”

“Retailers recognise that their customers are seeking clearer pricing on the best-selling brands they trust,” agrees David Costello, category and activation controller  at Burton’s Biscuit Company. “That’s why we advise cash & carries and wholesalers to focus more on PMPs.”

Hena Chandarana, trade communications controller at United Biscuits, adds: “Shoppers are taking a more considered approach to buying biscuits – but there’s ‘no one size fits all’ approach to promotions.

“Instead, it’s crucial that wholesalers offer the right mix of promotions and value formats, including PMPs, for their customer base to boost profits,” she says. 

Indulgent treats: 45% of spend is on ‘treatier’ biscuits

“In the challenging economic climate, shoppers feel encouraged to indulge in sweet treats and comfort eats,” says Lisa-Jo Harvey, senior brand manager at Mr Kipling. 

“Plus, this is a real impulse category, with 76% of purchases either bought on impulse or semi-planned, so wholesalers should make sure they are getting the most from this opportunity by stocking indulgent sweet treats.” 

“Nearly 45% of consumer spend in this category is on ‘treatier’ biscuits, either as part of an everyday routine or a special occasion,” agrees Burton’s David Costello. “Shopkeepers will be looking to cash & carry outlets and wholesalers to stock the treatier biscuits that their customers are looking for. 

“We also advise cash & carries not to focus too heavily on own-label biscuits at the expense of leading brands that are driving growth of the category,” he says. “This is because brands are more impulsive and as one-third of all biscuits are bought on impulse – you can’t underestimate the importance of leading brands such as Maryland, Cadbury, Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels.”

“Brand reassurance is proving a big trend in retail and the fact that sales of own-label desserts have decreased by 4% proves this,” agrees Andrew Ely, managing director of Almondy. “Plus, we know that in times of austerity, consumers turn to treats that offer familiarity and nostalgia, and we think this is why Almondy is growing at 5.5%.”

Special diets: Gluten-free desserts growing

The gluten-free cakes and desserts market is growing fast and is forecast to reach a value of £234m this year.

“Gluten-free offers a serious profit opportunity that wholesalers can’t afford to ignore,” says Ely. 

“Around 11% of UK consumers are intolerant or sensitive to the gluten in grains or actively avoid gluten for lifestyle reasons, according to Coeliac UK. And research has found that 55% of people think supermarkets could do more to cater for gluten-free.Plus, a staggering 78% of people think out-of-home outlets could offer more gluten-free options. 

He adds: “Being naturally gluten-free and made in a dedicated gluten-free site, Almondy products have a solid reputation in the special diets sector.”

Hamish Renton, owner of research consultancy Hamish Renton Associates, agrees: “With healthy eating such a big trend, this appears to have also influenced consumers’ choice in free-from ranges in the biscuits, cakes and desserts categories. Gluten-free bakery goods are seeing huge growth, undoubtedly contributing to the 37% increase in the gluten-free market.  

“These ranges are hugely popular at the moment and accelerated growth in this category has shown no signs of slowing, with the market expected to grow by a further 46% by 2017.”

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