Surprisingly, moves towards healthier eating have actually provided a boost to sales in the category. "Lunchboxes are a terrific opportunity for biscuit manufacturers since most local education authorities have put some sort of ban on confectionery in them," says Philippe Roucoule, category development manager at Burton's Foods. Although not a blanket ban, the effect has been to persuade parents that biscuits are a healthier alternative to sweets ­ with early feedback suggesting a significant impact on sales. "It's too early for exact figures, but the signs are that biscuits are substituting for sweets in lunchboxes," says Roncoule. "It's a fantastic window of opportunity." Burtons doesn't make its popular Wagon Wheels and Jammie Dodgers specifically for lunchboxes. However, according to the company's annual biscuit report published in June, 15.4% of all biscuits and 25% of all kids' biscuits end up in them. Innovative product lines which are designed for lunchboxes ­ such as market leader McVitie's new Penguin Wing Dings, PA Ross's Singing Bears or Nestlé's new Wonka Xploder and Golden Cruncher biscuits ­ are taking advantage of a lunchbox market which is growing at 13.1% year-on-year [TNS to May 2002]. Wise manufacturers are remem-bering the potential for adult lunchboxes, with exciting additions to their ranges such as McVitie's recently-launched Munchbites, and the relaunched Cadbury Minirolls brand. Although chocolate biscuits are the number two lunchbox dessert after fruit, the increasing bias towards supposedly healthier products may benefit cakes more than biscuits. "Cake is perceived as a healthier alternative to chocolate and other savoury snacks," says Paul Maylard-Mason, national accounts manager for The Fabulous Bakin' Boys. Small cakes and tarts are driving category growth, he adds. "Multipacks of small cakes account for over two thirds of total sales, driven by strong promotions, npd and the realisation that more parents are purchasing cakes as snacks for lunchboxes and to eat on the move." And retailers should gear up for late summer when mums will prepare for the new school term and shop for biscuit and cake bar multi-packs. "There is a strong argument for more theatre and sampling within the cake aisle," says Paul Maylard-Mason, "so people realise cake doesn't have to be boring and served with a cup of tea at 4pm." {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}