Christmas is the biggest sales opportunity for food and snacks. Independent retailers need to be ready to meet the increased demand.

Christmas 2017 was the biggest trading week ever, worth £3.5bn (Kantar), and this year will be no different.
As the nights draw in and the festive season approaches, consumers will be looking to make the most of time with family and friends, and sharing occasions will be on the rise.
Kantar research tells us that there are currently 1.7bn sharing occasions to tap into.
What’s more, sharing is the largest segment in the lead up to Christmas, growing +4.7% over the 2017 festive period (Kantar). Crisps, snacks, and nuts were among the top performing categories last Christmas, with an £8 million boost (+3.7%) over the festive period.
“As with other seasonal moments, timing is of the essence,” says Matt Collins, Sales Director for Convenience, Wholesale, Discounters & Foodservice at KP Snacks. “With over half of ‘stock pile’ category sales, including crisps snacks and nuts, confectionery, health and beauty, and dry grocery, occurring in the first two weeks of December, retailers should be prepared in order to capitalise on these early Christmas shopping missions.”
Understanding the importance of Christmas sales and activating strongly in-store is imperative for driving incremental spend, Collins believes. Placing crisps, nuts and snacks on promotion has become a great driver of this, with 24% of shoppers purchasing items on deal (HIM) as opposed to just 18% when they’re not on offer. This effect is similar when products are shown as PMPs where 33% believe that they’re cheaper than the standard price. Retailers see the benefit as well where 83% say PMPs sell much faster (HIM).
As the number one branded nut, KP Nuts are a Christmas-time staple, whether for festive get-togethers or a cosy night in, Collins suggests. Research has shown that 26% of shoppers are willing to spend more on higher quality products during the Christmas period (IGD). Taking full advantage of the recent boom in popularity of nuts, KP invested heavily in KP Nuts during 2017. The brand is now worth £58.5 million in retail sales value (Nielsen) – six times bigger than its nearest competitor.
Collins says KP Nuts drive shoppers into the category ahead of the big day, with a 50% increase in shoppers buying KP at Christmas (Kantar).
KP Nuts’ range includes Nuts Caddies and Big Bag Nuts, which all feature; Original Salted Peanuts, Dry Roasted Peanuts, and Honey Roast. Due to sharing being the most popular segment, 94% of sales went through these six core seasonal lines during the festive season in 2017.
In addition, catering to the needs of the convenience channel, KP also offers a £1 price-marked pack range – available across Original Salted, Dry Roasted, Salt & Vinegar and Chilli variants.
KP Cheese Footballs are a firm family favourite and the ultimate party food, growing +£88k during Christmas 2017 (Kantar).
Seasonal launches
Premier Foods is extending its Mr Kipling and Cadbury Cakes ranges ahead of the festive season.
For Cadbury Cakes, two new seasonal editions will be available, including a festive twist on Cadbury’s traditional chocolate Gateau. The new ‘Reindeer Cake’ is a chocolate sponge with caramel-flavoured crème, enrobed in smooth Cadbury chocolate and topped with a white chocolate Rudolph plaque. The festive Gateau joins a 12-cake selection box, which is perfect for sharing, and includes Mini Rolls, Festive Cake Bars, Festive Flake Cakes, Mini Yule Logs, Caramel Cakes and Roses Strawberry Dream Cake Bars.
Stem Ginger Slices and Candy Cane Slices are joining the Mr Kipling range. Containing real stem ginger pieces, ginger sauce and chocolate fondant, the Stem Ginger Slices aim to appeal to adults looking to treat themselves over the festive period; while the Candy Cane slices have raspberry and vanilla flavours.
The Mr Kipling festive range has undergone a packaging refresh in line with the refreshed brand presence, which included the return of the original logo, from earlier this year. The festive range will feature festive icons, such as Christmas trees, snow and reindeer, to help the range stand out on the shelf and encourage shoppers to purchase throughout the season.
Jess Ali, Marketing Controller at Premier Foods, comments: “It is important that we are always looking to innovate, which allows us to continually support retailers by offering our festive favourites alongside products that suit current and developing shopper trends. Our packaging re-design across the Mr Kipling festive range makes it easier for shoppers to identify the range in-store, while our Mince Pies have seen the inclusion of a window on-pack so shoppers can see exactly what they’re buying. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mr Kipling Mince Pies and we want shoppers to get excited when they see the festive treat on shelves.”
Mince Pies grew +£2.3m YoY in 2017, and make up 35% of total Christmas ambient packaged cake sales (IRI). Premier Foods will again capitalise on that popularity with updates for this year. Introducing a new snowflake lid design, Mr Kipling Deep Filled Mince Pies are Taste Approved by The Good Housekeeping Institute, while the Iced Topped Mince Pies have also been updated for 2018, with a new gold and silver topping adding an extra festive touch.
Merry biscuits
pladis UK&I will be bringing its campaign, Merry biscuits everyone, back for Christmas 2018, featuring McVitie’s and Jacob’s, both of which will undergo a Christmassy makeover.
Jonathan Bull, McVitie’s Seasonal & Commercial Controller, pladis UK& comments: “This year’s campaign will highlight the key role played by pladis brands leading up and during the seasonal festivities, from the McVitie’s Jaffa Cake Cracker under the tree to the McVitie’s Family Circle box shared in front of the television and the Jacob’s Biscuits for Cheese selection for the Boxing Day spread – making pladis your partners in Christmas.”
The pladis UK&I Christmas range taps into the enduring popularity of giftable tins, with the first McVitie’s Jaffa Cake tin, shaped like a larger-than-life Jaffa Cake and filled with snack packs of the chocolate-orange treats (RRP £10.00 for a 292g tin). The McVitie’s Jaffa Pole will also be returning this festive season featuring a re-design in the shape of an over-sized cracker this year (RRP £6.00 per unit).
Within the savoury category, an all-new Jacob’s tin captures the magic of Christmas with a design that nods to the heritage of the Jacob’s brand (RRP £10.00 for a 300g tin). The McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives Postbox Tin (RISP £10.00 for a 400g tin) also returns and gets a new look for 2018.
One of America’s favourite treats is joining pladis’ UK portfolio – the chocolate-covered pretzel snack, Flipz.
Available in 100g pouches in two variants – Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate – Flipz features crunchy, savoury pretzels enrobed with chocolate to offer a sweet and salty taste combination.
“Launched in Summer 2018, Flipz is already very successfully tapping into the growing trend for sweet and savoury flavour combinations in snacking, with research suggesting that almost one in six consumers are interested in a savoury snack with chocolate,” explains Bull. “In its first 16 weeks on shelves Flipz’s repeat rate reached 26% and is now worth £2.7m RSV.”
“Seasonal biscuits grew by +2.2% during Christmas last year and are a vital category for retailers to focus on to keep their tills ringing throughout the festive period,” Bull advises.
“With the average shopper buying into seasonal biscuits twice over the festive period it is important that sales are maximised by stocking Seasonal Biscuits at least 12 weeks before Christmas and making sure you include the best-selling lines across the different segments to make your fixture easy to shop. Shoppers are on auto-pilot so it’s important to interrupt them and encourage impulse purchasing through impactful displays in high footfall areas throughout the store.”
Seasonal packs
Retailers can drive Christmas biscuit sales by stocking seasonal packs of household favourites to tap into shopper demand, according to Burton’s Biscuit Company.
Seasonal biscuits present a major profit opportunity for convenience retailers, worth £13 million last year and growing well ahead of the total market at 3.8% (Nielsen).
“Seasonal is one of the most impulsive segments in biscuits and the key to maximising the opportunity is to leverage this through two key areas,” says Jeremy Peters, Head of Category and Insight at Burton’s Biscuit Company.
“First, we advise retailers to attract shoppers by stocking a product range that will appeal to the different occasions of home consumption, novelty and gifting. To capitalise on the increased demand, merchandising by these key occasions will make life easier for shoppers and ensure there is enough stock on shelf when demand for biscuits is so strong.
“Second, retailers need to ensure that shoppers can buy the right biscuits at the right time, and at the right price, to attract both early purchase and last-minute shoppers on different missions.
“Retailers who follow these simple, but effective steps will get the very best out of their seasonal biscuits fixture and watch sales soar.”
Burton’s Biscuit Company is bringing seasonal cheer to the biscuit fixture this Christmas, with the introduction of seasonal pack formats for its Maryland Cookies and Cathedral City Baked Bites products, available now.
This Christmas Maryland is being transformed into Merryland, with a share box of Maryland Minis for home consumption, gifting, or as a stocking filler (RRP £1.00 / 175g).
Nine out of every ten consumers know the brand which has benefited this year from a £1.5m+ marketing programme, spearheaded by national TV advertising. Maryland Minis are growing at 11% and are the number one children’s mini biscuit (Nielsen).
Burton’s has also introduced a festive-themed version of Cathedral City Baked Bites – which it bakes under licence from Dairy Crest – in the form of a limited-edition seasonal design for its 140g share box (RRP £1.49).
Made with real cheese, Cathedral City Baked Bites are also available in multipacks (5 or 6 packets), appealing to more affluent shoppers.
Authentic festive fare
Carrs Foods supplies the Kuchenmeister Stollen range, which grew 25% last Christmas to be worth £2.7m as consumers tap into the trend of seeking out authentic festive fare to share. Favourites include Kucehnmeister Marzipan Stollen 200g (RRP £1.49) and Marzipan Stollen Bites 275g (RRP £3.49).
The St Pierre Tear and Share Brioche, which makes an ideal Christmas easy treat for those unexpected guests, is available in Chocolate Chip (RRP £3.49) or plain (RRP £3.29). The brioche tear and shares can also be cut in half and filled with cream and jam or even mincemeat.
Christmas is the time of year that consumers seek to treat themselves and their families, and this results in a spike in purchases of croissants. St Pierre offers 4 All Butter Croissants (RRP £1.89), ideal for popping in the oven for a warm breakfast treat.
Jeremy Gilboy, managing director at Carrs Foods comments: Our sales indicate that consumers are trading up at Christmas and especially appreciate authentic bakery items that are suitable for sharing. Our fresher for longer products are also very convenient for consumers who want to make sure they have plenty of food on hand over the holiday season but don’t want to compromise on taste. We are urging retailers to make sure they have plenty of our top selling lines such as St Pierre Brioche Tear & Share and the Kuchenmeister Stollen selection in stock and to display them in a prominent position in store in the lead up to Christmas.”
“Typically, we see an uplift during the festive season in sales of our gifting packs and tins, which we are confident will continue this year,” says Suzie Carlaw, Marketing Manager at Border. “Our gifting range has been designed to provide a quality stand-alone gift, perfect as a stocking filler or for giving to friends, or relatives during Christmas get togethers.”
Border’s range of special gifting options includes Luxury tin, Jute bag, Hexagon tin and Classic box.
Mintel’s statistics last year, demonstrated that more than half of consumers see biscuits as a nice gift at any time of year. Border’s Carry Packs bring together the Chocolate Ginger range, Classic Recipes range and Oat Crumbles range in a gift pack complete with carry handle.
“For retailers, Christmas can indeed be the most wonderful time of year, with consumers keen to pick up a unique and thoughtful Christmas gift for loved ones,” added Carlaw. “The attractive nature of our gifting range allows retailers to create stand out merchandising and Christmas displays. Seasonal releases can also offer an ideal opportunity to encourage upselling and retailers would be wise to position biscuits beside the likes of premium hot drinks.”
BEPPS (Black Eyed Pea Puffed Snacks) is a new range of savoury snacks made from black eyed peas.
The range comprises three flavours: Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Cheese and Sweet Chilli.
All three of the flavours are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, organic and are all under 92 calories for a pack. They are also packed with protein and fibre, making them a guilt free snack.
BEPPS caters for consumers who are vegan, gluten free and other dietary requirements. As people are becoming more health conscious, the ‘alternatives’ to unhealthy food is rapidly increasing.
Around Christmas many people dread putting on weight around the festive period, due to all of the heavy food & drinking. By retailers stocking BEPPS around the Christmas period, they will be offering their customers a guilt free option, a company statement said.
In the winter many people are prone to getting ill, BEPPS gives people a healthy kick through a tasty snack, providing them with nutrients to avoid a winter cold.
BEPPS provide a crisp alternative to have at Christmas parties and are ideal for sharing.