29 June 2007, 15:36 PM
  • According to latest research from Mintel, honey sales are seeing their best year yet.

While marmalade has seen a drop in sales of ten percent between 2004 and 2006, honey purchases have risen by 14% over the same two year period - overtaking marmalade and becoming the second largest sector in the sweet spreads market after jam. Jam sales remained stagnant over these two years.

“Honey sales have done particularly well in recent years, as it has successfully highlighted its all natural credentials, making the most of Britain’s recent obsession with all things natural and organic. Manuka honey, which has been heralded as a superfood because of its health benefits, has also undoubtedly helped to boost sales,” comments Julie Sloan, senior market analyst at Mintel.

“Honey has many positive health benefits, some of which could be developed into other sectors by adding ingredients such as ginseng for improved brain activity or guarana for energy, providing an added incentive for first thing in the morning,” she adds

In 2006, jam accounted for 35% of the sweet spreads market, with sales of £89 million.Honey took 26% of the market with sales at £67 million, while sales of marmalade (£52 million) made up just 21%. The rest of the market was made up of peanut butter (ten percent), chocolate and nut spreads (five percent), fruit curds (two percent) and syrups and treacle (one percent).

The total sweet spreads market was worth some £253 million in 2006, the same as in 2004, but without the growth in honey sales, the overall market would have undoubtedly seen sales slide. This year the total sweets spreads market is set to rise by just £1 million. Between 2004 and 2006 peanut butter and chocolate or nut spreads both saw sales decline by about 7% due to health issues and fears of nut allergies. But it was marmalade that really suffered over this period, having seen sales drop the greatest amount (10%), as people lost interest in this traditional and old-fashioned sector. Although marmalade was once a great British breakfast staple, today the market is really struggling, and clearly needs to take a leaf out of the honey sector’s book.

“Marmalades have often highlighted low sugar content, but today people are less interested in what has been taken away and more interested in added value or all natural products with premium ingredients. Growth areas are organic, with brands highlighting their fruit content and where the fruit was grown,” comments Julie Sloan.

All these products are battling against the demise of breakfast being a leisurely affair, where the whole family sits down to a slice of toast and a read of the paper. People are instead opting for ‘desk-fasts’ in the office and snacking. This market needs to look at new ways and occasions to eat jams, marmalades and other sweet spreads, by moving away from spreading and thinking more along the lines of warming it up to dip and dunk pieces of fruit or cereal bars into.