Spreads may be in overall decline but honey is doing well as are lines that tap into healthy eating or premiumisation, says Jackie Mitchell

Health continues to be the major driver in the jam, marmalade and honey market, with consumers placing it above convenience as a reason for purchase.
Overall, total spreads have declined 2.3% year-on-year, with jam and marmalade dropping 3.1% and 7% respectively in value to £86m and £53.8m [TNS w/e October 9, 2005].
In strong contrast, honey continues to show growth of 4.5% to £60.91m, with the ban on cheap Chinese honey back in 2002 still having a positive effect on sales of premium honey products.
Honey continues to thrive on the back of its perceived health properties and, according to TNS Family Food Panel, the category has managed to attract more than 490,000 new households this year thanks to its strong health links. Having overtaken marmalade in value last year, it is now widening the gap.
Health concerns also continue to impact on the jam category, with fruit spreads and reduced sugar spreads showing good value growth (20.3% and 4.4% respectively), although this isn’t sufficient to stop overall category decline.
Trends show, however, that customers are looking for more premium lines, according to Michael Simpson-Jones, the buyer for hot beverages and breakfast spreads at Waitrose.
“People are buying conserve instead of jam, and fresh fruit marmalades instead of standard marmalades, as well as healthier alternatives in these categories,” he says.
One of the reasons for the decline in jams and marmalades is that the number of occasions where consumers may eat jams and spreads is limited.
According to Patrick Finlay, head of marketing at Robertson’s, 90% of sweet spreads are eaten with bread.
However, although the traditional breakfast is in decline, Kate Pratt, buyer of jams and spreads at Tesco, points out that the growing
trend towards weekend and Continental breakfasts is supporting the premiumisation of the category as consumers look for indulgent products.
Finlay adds: “Indulgence is an increasing trend with shoppers and is one of the biggest opportunities for growth over coming years.”
A spokesman from Andros UK, which supplies Bonne Maman, adds: “We need to open up more usages and occasions for people to use jams and marmalades so that they are not just confined to breakfast and are used, for example, in cooking.”
He cites a recent cookery article featuring French recipes that use marmalade and jam, such as damson jam glazed rack of lamb or breast of duck with marmalade.
“It doesn’t have to be a specifically sweet recipe as such,” he stresses.
In honey, Rowse Honey has produced a 32-page colour consumer recipe booklet, highlighting ways of using honey in recipes, from smoothies to cheesecakes.
Another reason for the success of honey is the introduction of the squeezy format, which enables it to be easily used in cooking. As Simpson-Jones says: “This has attracted new users to the product - it is now easy for children to use and it is not messy when used for cooking.”
Premier Foods has introduced new squeezy packaging in its everyday honey range and Tesco has followed suit with the recent launch of its own squeezy variety.
Stuart Bailey, Rowse Honey MD, says: “Squeezable packaging means no sticky spoons or knives - it is quick, clean and convenient.
“The format is great for squeezing honey on to cereal or yoghurt, and into stir fries and other recipes.
“Honey is much more than a spread on bread - that is why its sales will continue to increase.”