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Post-Covid, the opportunities for biscuit consumption are opening up. While some consumers are seeking out a chocolate-topped indulgence to dip into their cuppa, others are looking for that treat ‘moment’ minus the guilt, – but that’s what makes the UK’s biscuit market such an exciting place to be, not least if you’re at the fine food end of it.
An important consideration of the independent retailer has to be catering to customers following restricted diets, as well as those looking for healthier options, and thankfully there’s a raft of delicious free-from biscuits on the market.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Olina’s Bakehouse has become a popular supplier of crackers to the UK’s independent trade and is a trusted brand for consumers on the hunt for quality free-from products without compromise. Seven of their 14-strong range of crackers are certified gluten-free, with four of those also vegan and keto-friendly. “The gluten-free products have really delighted the free from community and provide the same quality [as the rest of our range] without compromise,” explains Mash Chiles, UK and EU sales manager at Gourmet Partners.
With the range including Fig & Sunflower Seed and Cranberry & Pumpkin Seed Toasts, as well as Wafer Crackers and Flatbreads, customers following a gluten-free diet are sure to be delighted. “In reality, the products taste so good that they really merge the core range biscuit category and the free-from categories together, and in many cases the free-from products happily sit on the same shelf as the core range biscuits,” says Mash. “This is good news, especially as it introduces Olina’s Bakehouse’s healthy alternative products to the everyday grocery cupboard, proving consumers do not need to compromise on flavour, quality or product usage should they make the switch to free-from biscuits.”
It’s not only free-from options that health-conscious shoppers are keeping an eye out for these days. The Covid-19 pandemic has made UK shoppers more conscious than ever of what they’re putting in their bodies, but that’s not to say that they’re willing to sacrifice indulgence for health benefits.
Biscuits which offer healthier alternatives to conventional products are in big demand, and even more so if they offer an indulgent experience that comes without the ‘guilt’ which so often accompanies conventional sweet treats. For Helen Yates, founder of Rootles, the answer was to be found in vegetables.
The biscuits are naturally sweetened by nutritious root veggies including carrot, sweet potato and beetroot, and are available in Dark Chocolate (which is vegan), Milk Chocolate, and White Chocolate & Beetroot. With a high percentage of nutritious vegetables in every pack of three chocolate-coated fingers – an impressive 35% - the brand is proudly proving that indulgence and nutrition can be combined.
“Rootles was launched to satisfy the demand for indulgent, guilt-free treats,” begins Helen, adding that the consumer appetite for ‘better for you’ snacks is booming. “The demand for vegan and plant-based options has been increasing across all sectors, including the biscuit and snack sector, which is why we’ve recently modified our dark chocolate Rootles flavour to make it suitable for anyone who is vegan. Consumers are also seeking controlled portions – they want individual packs. Biscuits that are indulgent but aren’t as calorific or have a perceived health benefit or are in some way ‘better for you’ than traditional confectionery and snacks are proving to be popular with consumers.
“The Covid pandemic has brought health into sharp focus and although consumers are keen to treat themselves, they are mindful of nutrition and calories,” she continues. “Clean label, recognisable ingredients, and healthier ingredients are all important factors, but the biscuits must still taste good! We’re finding that people would rather have ‘proper ingredients’ which may be more calorific i.e. chocolate but have a smaller portion or a controlled portion.”
While the use of root vegetables in biscuits is a genuine innovation, it makes sense. With their natural sweetness and bulk a great stand-in for sugar and conventional flours in cakes and bakes for years, it was only a matter of time before this mindset was applied to biscuits. “There are many benefits to adding vegetables to biscuits,” explains Helen. “They are high fibre, all-natural and recognisable ingredients, and thanks to their inclusion Rootles have a crunchier, more satiating texture and are quite moreish.”