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The underlying trend in cake this year was the growing appetite for premium propositions

Brits are forking out for fancy cake. While volume sales have only just scraped into the black with a 0.6% gain, the value of the category has shot up £31.0m – and more than half of the top 20 brands are in growth.

That’s been driven by shoppers opting for pricier, party-friendly lines amid the resurgence of social events, says Michelle Frost, GM of Mars Chocolate Drinks & Treats.

The supplier has seen its Galaxy cakes add 45.6% value on the back of a 20.8% rise in unit sales. Galaxy’s Ripple celebration cake, which comes at a pricey £10, has been a “main driver” of growth for the brand, Frost adds.

Plus, Galaxy’s position as a leading name in grocery also drove sales, as shoppers sought “brands they trusted to deliver on taste as the pandemic restrictions eased” she says.

A greater demand for trusted brands also proved beneficial for Pladis, whose Malteser cake bars netted a substantial £2.1m in their first eight months.

The real underlying trend this year, though, was the growing appetite for premium propositions. Here, Premier Foods emerged as a big winner. Its Mr Kipling brand shifted an extra four million packs, buoyed by its posher Signature Collection.


Options such as its After Dinner Chocolate & Orange Fancies – added in May 2020 – have met demand for “indulgent evening treats” says Premier sweet treats brand director Matthew Bird. The range is achieving “outstanding year-on-year growth” he adds.

That same appetite for fancier fare helped Bonne Maman achieve success with its fancy, French-style lines. They’ve grown value by 9.5% on volumes up 7.1%.

Still, not everyone’s in the mood for celebration this year. “Distribution this year seems to be key to decline, with all the biggest decliners losing distribution,” says Nicholas Corlett, NielsenIQ senior analytics executive.

Among those decliners is McVitie’s – down 4.4% in value to £29.1m. This slump was driven by “pandemic-related changes to consumer shopping habits”, says Scott Snell, customer VP at owner Pladis, as Brits bought cakes less often.

Similarly, a “drop in impulse purchases” drove Mrs Crimble’s 10.5% loss, says marketing & category director Bryan Martins.

It was that change in shopper habits during the pandemic that led Soreen to add a 10-pack of its lunchbox loaves aimed at parents looking to “shop more efficiently but also more cost-effectively”, says brand manager Liz Jacobs. It worked.

While units are down 1.7%, the brand added £1.7m thanks to higher value purchases. Soreen is now tapping the health trend with its lunchbox-friendly Fruit & Veg-Mmms, which debuted in May “priced at a small premium”.

Top Launch 2021

Urban Legend

Urban Legend - example batch

The pending clampdown on HFSS goods poses a big obstacle for cakes. Enter Urban Legend. In August, the high-tech brand – brainchild of former Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher – unveiled non-HFSS doughnuts. Providing under 160kcals each, they’re ‘set’ by steam and sweetened by “alternatives to sugar” from fruit & veg. Urban Legend’s healthier treats are available via the brand’s bricks-and-mortar store in Brighton, with four London sites planned. Could a grocery rollout be next on the cards?

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends