Inside the mince pie market
From vegan mince pies to a new import from the Netherlands: Jonathan Lill of BFF offers expert insight into the mince pie market as Christmas looms.
What twists on this humble classic are manufacturers planning to introduce this year? Credit: BFF
The festive period is approaching at a rate of knots, and although things might look very different at Christmas this year, the mince pie is expected to once again be a mainstay on supermarket shelves.
Although consumers only see the festive bakes in the winter months, CEO of cake manufacturer BFF Limited Jonathan Lill, revealed that the hard work for them starts way in advance: “We’re already in planning mode for Christmas 2021, but typically we start presenting range proposals 14 months before each Christmas.”
This is not exactly a small operation either. BFF says it expects to make 100 million mince pies this year – that’s enough for everyone in the UK to have one and a half mince pies each. Lill explained just how much of a mince-mountain this is to climb every year. “It can be challenging to develop exciting but different recipes for mince pies for so many customers each year,” he noted. “It’s important that they’re all unique in recipe and design for each and every one of our customers.
“Variations in consumer demand so close to Christmas, which occur for a number of reasons, also present a challenge, as we need to be able to react very quickly to changing buying habits.”
A new take on an old classic
This year BFF’s range will include some modern day twists on the classic mince pie, for example salted caramel and vegan offerings. Salted caramel might seem like an odd and decidedly un-festive flavour for a mince pie, but Lill was happy to illuminate the thinking behind its inclusion. “Growing consumer trends in other categories throughout the year typically influence festive flavours – we’ve seen salted caramel significantly grow in popularity in recent months, so it was natural to integrate it into this year’s mince pies.”
Plant-based alternatives have grown from strength to strength in 2020, but it is difficult to replicate the taste of a product such as a mince pie, which relies so heavily on butter for its crumbly texture. “The centre of our vegan mince pies consists of the traditional mincemeat filling,” Lill said, “however, we switch out the eggs and dairy in the pastry for ingredients like coconut oil and dairy-free milk alternatives.”
There was a prediction for 2021 too, with BFF identifying speculoos mince pies as a potential show-stealer. Originating in the Netherlands, this spiced shortcrust biscuit is usually baked for St Nicholas’ Day, but perhaps next year will provide yet another play on the classic mince pie.
Sweet treats are here to stay
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to move away from COVID-19 at the moment, especially as the pandemic looks set to make this Christmas very unique indeed. Yet according to Lill, there will always be room for sweet treats in the shopping basket. “The out-of-home market is constantly evolving due to changing Government guidelines around COVID-19, so we’re expecting the eat-at-home market to flex accordingly.
“We’re currently on track to produce approximately 115 million mince pies for consumers across the UK, as we’re anticipating many will look to create the best Christmas experience possible this year but on a more manageable budget, given the economic climate. In the retail market, there is also more promotional activity this year.”
He concluded: “As consumer spending habits continue to evolve, the trend for great value, indulgent treats – like mince pies – is expected to remain popular through the festive period and beyond.”