Australians are becoming wary of biscuits’ nutritional content, scrutinising the amount of sugar, sodium, carbohydrates and gluten. Australians are still buying biscuits, however they are eating them less often as the average biscuit consumption has fallen from 6.7kg per person in 2011 to 6kg in 2015. It is predicted that consumption will drop to well under 6kg by 2020. Alongside health concerns reducing engagement with the category, the growing number of biscuit alternatives is pushing consumers to look outside the category for a treat or snack.

Looking ahead, the biscuit category also faces the challenge of remaining relevant among younger demographics, from children through to Millennials. Biscuits have long been a tradition among older demographics, but consumption is lower for younger consumers.

Driving excitement around flavours is important to help keep younger consumers engaged. However, for Millennials, it isn’t all about flavour as lifestyle and dietary habits need to be considered too. Innovating around format – in particular from a convenience angle – with more on-the-go packaging, should be met with interest from on-the-go Millennials.

Additionally when trying to engage with younger consumers, biscuit brands cannot ignore the growing free-from population that are looking to cut out ingredients from gluten to dairy and wheat. Millennials are the demographic most likely to report having a food allergy or intolerance. Attracted by the health-halo that surrounds free-from products, or simply because of a desire to experiment and/or add variety to their diet, Millennials are actively seeking free-from products.

Avoidance of gluten, wheat and dairy are some of the key areas biscuits need to consider in the free-from space. However, with free-from products increasingly cutting out multiple allergens or ingredients from single products, biscuit brands need to consider pairing up free-from claims on products. The more recent advent of grain-free products, popularised by the paleo diet and general carb-consciousness among Australia, is a free-from claim to watch for biscuits.

When it comes to children, the biscuit sector has to consider industry led initiatives like the Responsible Marketing to Children Initiative (RMCI) and pressure from schools that are insisting lunch boxes are healthier. Better-for-you sweet and savoury biscuits that target children will be well received by parents that sometimes struggle to provide healthier snacks or lunchbox fillers for their children. Using nutrient dense or popular superfoods, like ancient grains, seeds, fruits or vegetables, and ‘natural’, less refined ingredients, can help position biscuits as a more wholesome, nutritious snack. Not only will this inclusion help win parents over, but they will also appeal to Millennials who are less engaged in the category.

Laura Jones is a Trend & Innovation Consultant, Australia & New Zealand at Mintel. Based in Sydney, Laura helps drive insights programming and consultancy in ANZ. Prior to her current role, Laurawas a Global Food Science Analyst at Mintel.

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