Special occasion manufacturers are keen to put value back into the celebration cake market and rise to the challenge

Sales figures for special occasion cakes are a cause for celebration, although category worth estimates vary. According to TNS [year-end to June 2005] it’s £85m, but Lightbody Celebration Cakes puts it at about £126m, because of cakes taken to parties rather than eaten at home.
Mark Bruce, sales and marketing director, says the market is almost static as competition has forced down prices. “Three in four people aren’t buying, but we’ve been enticing people with new concepts such as character licensing.”
Elisabeth the Chef chief executive Andrew Johnson says: “More retailers realise they can get faster uptake from shelves - we’ve even got one dual siting next to greeting cards,” he says.
In the past year Greencore has launched more than 18 new licensed cakes and says this sector is worth £26.3m [TNS 52 w/e July 17, 2005]. “We need to excite interest with fantastic new designs and interesting packaging. It is important to have trial sizes, particularly with premium Christmas lines,” says Paul Rhodes, sales and marketing director at Greencore. Smaller sizes are doing particularly well for Elisabeth the Chef.
Other innovations include Lightbody’s Crazy Frog cake with sound module and Greencore’s Supercook Ready to Decorate cake with icing tubes and edible decorations. Manor Bakeries is in on the act with its Cadbury celebration cakes launch and reckons there’s an opportunity to grow the sector by at least £50m over the next three years.