UK: Cadbury gets into the “popping” popcorn market

Kraft-owned Cadbury has expanded its “sharing bag” portfolio with a chocolate-coated toffee popcorn product, in a bid to claim some of the UK’s burgeoning £42m (€52.46m) popcorn market, but four years after it exited the sector.

The latest chocolate-coated toffee popcorn will join Cadbury’s Giant Buttons, Twirl Bites, Caramel Nibbles and Bitsa Wispa in its sharing range.

While the market remains in its infancy, data from retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel pegged the UK’s popcorn market at £42m (€52.46m) with a 20% sales increase across all retailers over the last year.

Popcorn sales have been helped by the economic downturn as more people stay at home instead of going out for expensive trips to the cinema or theatre, further evidence of which is Britain’s home cinema and giant TV boom.

Cadbury said that this trend has also benefitted the bite-size snacks segment.

Sally Barton, brand manager for Bitesize at Kraft Foods, told “consumers’ disposable incomes are now at their lowest point since the 1970s due to wage freezes, the rising costs of food and living expenses, and tax increases. As a result consumers are spending more time in the comfort of their own homes and a trend for ‘Big Nights In’ is emerging.”

“With 53% of confectionery consumption taking place at home in the evening and 72% of bitesize products eaten during a shared occasion, the relevance of bitesize confectionery products to these occasions is clear to see,” Barton said.

Cadbury’s reports that its recent March launch of Bitsa Wispa sharing pack pulled in £4.2m (€5.24m) in the first six weeks and that chocolate sharing bags are fast out-pacing the wider chocolate sector.

The UK chocolate giant has pegged its sharing bags business at £324m (€405.7m) with growth forecast at 5.7% each year.

Nielsen data suggests the bitesize product segment comprises 9.5% of standard confectionery sales.

This move comes four years after cadbury sold its popcorn business, Monkhill Confectionery, which included the Butterkist brand, to Tangerine Confectionery for £58m.