The Sweet Biscuits/Cookies segment has seen a large number of new product introductions in the last couple of years. While obesity has remained a central issue in the sector, convenience and indulgence are also influencing new product introductions, as Alissa Ostrowski reports.
Overall, the Bakery category is dominated by the Sweet Biscuits/Cookies sub-category (accounting for around 40% of new product introductions). The next most active sub-categories are Cakes, Pastries & Sweet Goods (with 21% of new product introductions), Baking Ingredients & Mixes (15%), Bread & Bread Products (13%) and finally Savoury Biscuits/Cookies (11%). In 2003, growth in new product activity (compared to the previous year) was most prevalent in Savoury Biscuits/Cookies and Baking Ingredients & Mixes, with increases of 33% and 29% respectively.
Overall, there is a very even balance between new products and new varieties/range extensions: new products accounted for 49% of introductions, while new varieties/range extensions accounted for 51%. So far, in 2004 to date, new varieties are most prevalent with 65%.
Most activity in this market has taken place in the Asia Pacific region, which accounted for 34% of product introductions. This was closely followed by Europe, with 32% of introductions, and North America with 21% of introductions. However, significant increases of new products in 2003 (compared to 2002) took place in the Middle East & Africa, and Latin American regions (with 72% and 51% increases respectively). These significant increases are largely attributed to improvements in GNPD coverage.
|Sweet Biscuits/Cookies Introductions by launch type|
|New variety/range extension|
Source: Global New Products Database
Blending of definitions
The lines between cookies, confectionery, cereal/breakfast bars, and energy bars remain very fuzzy. For example, we see cookies positioned as energy bars, (sometimes to replace a meal), and continued interest in the segment from chocolate confectionery brands (interesting entrants include Nestlé’s Milkybar and Butterfinger brands).
Also worth noting here is the link between cookies and breakfast consumption. In continental Europe, cookies are a traditional breakfast item designed to be eaten dunked in milk. As such, in this region there are numerous breakfast biscuits/cookies. A recent trend within this segment has been a heightened link between such breakfast biscuits and breakfast cereals. This has been achieved through packaging and format innovations. For example, we have reported on mini, bite-size formats of breakfast biscuits, designed to be poured into milk (in the same way as a breakfast cereal), rather than dunked. Furthermore, some of these have been packaged in breakfast cereal style cartons, or in novel resealable tubs.
Kids and cookies go hand in hand
A wide variety of cookies continue to be marketed to children, as is expected. We are seeing more cookie varieties that take a cue from other kid-focused categories, such as breakfast cereals. More cookies have been appearing recently that have unique shapes, colours or branding that appeal directly to kids.
Health & wellness trends
Vitamin and mineral fortification
As we have seen in virtually all product categories, more products appear with some sort of vitamin and mineral fortification. Although the figures in Sweet Biscuits/Cookies are relatively small compared to all products in the category, there have been some significant developments.
Promoting inherent goodness
About 10% of all new product introductions had the positioning claims of all natural, organic, or no preservatives/additives. On a regional level, North America captured 50% of this segment.
- In the US, The Hain Celestial Group introduced, under its Health Valley brand, Cookie Bars, all-natural treats with a trans fat-free cookie crust and one of three fillings: Strawberry Shortbread, Peanut Butter Swirl and Chocolate Vanilla Crème.
- In the UK, Dr Gillian McKeith’s Living Food Energy Cookie Bites are free of artificial ingredients, organically grown, low in fat, and are made with raw sprouted grains and seeds. The cookie bites contain no added sugar, live phytonutrients, active enzymes, vitamins and 74 minerals.
- In France, Le Goût de la Vie launched Riz-Choco Mini Galettes Biologiques, organic rice cakes with a dark chocolate coating.
- Pepperidge Farm extended its Chocolate Cookies line of chocolate chunk cookies into Ireland. They are named after specific locations in the US, and are said to use only the finest, high quality, natural ingredients to make these the best chocolate chunk cookies in the world.
- Heron Foods in Ireland is so confident that consumers will enjoy its Organic Coconut & Raisin Cookies that it offers a 100% “tastes great” money back guarantee.)
Fibre and digestive health issues were addressed with a total of 119 global introductions for cookies with a digestive benefit. Latin America held 32% of the digestive aid new products in the Sweet Biscuits/Cookies category, representing 15% of Latin America’s total new cookie products.
Prebiotic fibres, such as oligofructose or inulin, aid digestive health by stimulating growth of beneficial bacteria (often acidophilus or bifidus) in the intestinal tract.
- Biocentury, and others, introduced a few products in Spain and Portugal addressing these and other functional needs.
- Biocentury Soya and Kiwi biscuits are enriched with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, A, C, and E, selenium and zinc, and claim to prevent cell aging.
- Frisch & Frost in Austria introduced under the Toni Kaiser brand a whole grain strudel pastry that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and is also high in fibre.
- Glico in Japan launched semi-moist biscuits under the Kirei Sweets line that claim to cleanse the body from the inside.
- Virginias in Spain launched chocolate chip cookies with bifidus cultures under the Nova Forma brand.
Diabetes is a global issue, and many manufacturers have marketed sugar-free cookies to diabetics for years. The low-carb fad in the US provides more consumers for manufacturers to target, thus more products on the marketplace. For the time being, the US seems to be the sole rider on the low-carb wave, with half of consumers either interested or currently on a low-carb diet, according to a recent Mintel Report. In other countries, especially in Australia and Japan, we see products marketed on a low glycaemic index platform, which bears similarities to low-carb foods in that the glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly foods are metabolised and their effect on blood sugar levels. Other types of healthier choices include a wide range of products with reduced-sugar or sugar-free claims.
Low-fat and no-fat cookies usually have high sugar content in order to optimise both taste and processing. However, new sweetener developments, such as Splenda brand sucralose, may enable manufacturers to provide a low-fat or fat-free cookie that is also lower in sugar, and thus lower in carbohydrates and calories. At this point, Splenda has been approved for baking use in the US, and appears in products exclusively in the Americas. The US led this area of innovation by accounting for one third of the low-calorie and/or low-fat cookie introductions on a global basis during the time covered in this report.
Predictions for the future of the segment
Mintel forecasts that obesity and health will have a major influence on the future of the cookie segment:
- Manufacturers will jump on the obesity bandwagon, and perhaps offer products in more lower-calorie, lower-fat options, or in truly single-serve portions
- Companies also will add vitamins and minerals and other fortifiers to add benefits to cookies
- Fibre and digestive health issues are areas ready for growth globally
- One specific cookie type that may fit the need for taste, flavour and few calories could be meringue cookies, which are fairly prevalent in the US but less so elsewhere
- Cereal ingredients will appear in more cookies, resulting in more products with a “complete nutrition” positioning
- More fun shapes and colours targeted to kids, encouraging them to play with their food and create different objects
- Indulgent cookies will become more so with greater use of premium chocolate, and more premium ingredients
- More dessert flavours will appear, offering more indulgent introductions – flavours could include Rocky Road (nuts, marshmallow and chocolate) or Tiramisu