Walkers Shortbread recently launched a line of Weight Watchers breakfast biscuits, which are being produced under license in the UK. The company is hoping the move will help it build on the growing demand for healthier options as well as the massive growth of the breakfast biscuit category. Katy Askew spoke to David Guest, commercial manager at Walkers Shortbread, about the group’s hopes for the category.

just-food: Is this the company’s first move into the breakfast category?

David Guest: Whilst we have several products in our portfolio suitable for a breakfast occasion like our Weight Watchers bacon and sausages, plus Weight Watchers cranberry and sunflower seed biscuits, this is the first official move into a specific breakfast offering.

The breakfast biscuit category has risen by 189% to more than GBP65m (US$100m) in the past two years [according to Kantar Worldpanel data]. Customers continue to seek out healthier alternatives to traditional sweet snacking products that don’t compromise on taste and it’s imperative that we continue to develop our ranges further to ensure we are always offering customers something new that meets [their expectations].

just-food: Walkers offers a wide range of Weight Watchers biscuits – how quickly is the brand growing?

Guest: Weight Watchers is the ninth largest UK food brand and the largest brand in low calorie, with 9.6% share… Sweet Biscuits are one of the strongest performing categories for Weight Watchers with a 20% value share of low fat sweet biscuits worth in excess of GBP20m per annum. Popular SKUs that don’t compromise on taste, such as Chocolate Digestives and Jaffa Cake Bars, continue to drive growth for Weight Watchers biscuits.

just-food: Does the company believe the launch will allow it to further cash in on the growing trends of “healthy” options and alternative breakfast options?

Guest: By launching the new Weight Watchers breakfast biscuits, Walkers has recognised the increasing demand for convenient and functional breakfast products but responded to the direct needs of the Weight Watchers consumer by portioning, packaging and assigning ProPoints values to the biscuits in a way that allows them to conveniently tap into the market whilst following the Weight Watchers plan.

just-food: Is Walkers increasing its focus on NPD to drive growth of the Weight Watchers brand?

Guest: NPD is absolutely key for driving growth for the Weight Watchers Sweet Biscuits category. Consumer demand for convenient and tasty products that offer ProPoints values equivalent to other popular products on the market remain a core focus for us. Weight Watchers consumers are extremely loyal and valuable and Walkers are committed to continuing to offer exciting and new products that are in line with their snacking needs.

Category buyers can also see that a strong Weight Watchers presence on shelf reaps rewards with Weight Watchers shoppers typically spending over 109% more on their groceries than the average shopper, so it’s also important that we always go to retailers with something new.

just-food: Is Walkers increasingly looking to complementary categories for expansion?

Guest: Walkers are always looking to develop the Weight Watchers Sweet Biscuit licence and have an active programme to achieve this.