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Sector Trend Analysis - Maple products in the United Kingdom

January 2018

  • Canadian dollar (CAD$)

Executive summary

The goal of this report is to explore the opportunities of maple products in the U.K., and to identify the products and categories that are driving consumer trends.

With the current mega-trend of health awareness, maple syrup has a window of opportunity to become the next preferred substitute of sugar. This also signals an opportunity for Canadian suppliers of maple products, as Canada is the number-one exporter of maple products in the U.K., representing 78.6% of the market for exports.

The U.K. imported CAD $16,584,166 of maple products from Canada in 2016 which represents an 11.8% increase in the compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2016.

In the family of maple product and ingredients, there is a growing interest toward natural and environmentally friendly products in the U.K., as well as a search for novelty products which may present many opportunities to Canadian processors in the value-added sector.


Market overview

The recent health and wellness trend has been a key factor for the maple sector. Spreads have been under the scrutiny of sugar-wary and quality-seeking consumers, which pushed some producers into innovating unique audience-specific products. Another interesting trend is the premium appeal: British spread consumers are looking for high flavor payoff and taste-centered experiences even though, in general, the public is watching its consumption of sugar and salt. Their consumption of jam and yeast-based spreads is then reduced. However, ideal candidates are honey and maple products, which are seen as naturally healthy and naturally sweet.

There is then an opportunity for producers who want to cater to the needs of health-conscious sweet-toothed consumers in search of sugar substitutes. Furthermore, according to a survey on preferred substitutes for sugar conducted by Mintel, 41% of people were most appealed by honey. Syrups, including maple syrup, scored 19%. Although not as popular as honey, which has been around for much longer, maple syrup could win the hearts of consumers if its health halo is marketed to the same extent as honey.

Preferred substitutes for sugar in the U.K.
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Honey 41
Plant-derived sweeteners (e.g. stevia, xylitol, mok fruit) 24
Fruit puree/fruit juice concentrate 22
Dried fruit (e.g. dried dates) 22
Unrefined/raw sugar (e.g. golden caster) 21
Syrups (e.g. agave ryrup, maple syrup) 19
Coconut sugar/coconut nectar 18
Zero-calorie artificial sweeteners (e.g. aspartame) 17
Molasses 9
Barley malt extract 6
None of these 23

Source: Mintel, 2017

Main countries exporting maple products to the UK
# Country Exports to the UK in 2016 (US$ millions) Market share (%) 2012-16 CAGR* (%)
World 19.279 100.00 9.31
1 Canada 15.085 78.65 6.45
2 Ireland 1.107 5.77 186.21
3 Denmark 0.848 4.42 57.39
4 United States 0.747 3.90 1.26
5 Germany 0.455 2.37 37.40

Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2017. Code used: 170220

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth rate.

In 2016, The United Kingdom imported about US$19.279 million worth of maple products worldwide. Overall, the world’s exports to the UK have been growing at a high rate of 9.31%. Canada remained the leader in maple product imports in 2016 with a 78.65% market share, despite its slower growth and progressive loss of market share due to expanding markets like Ireland, with a 4-year compound annual growth rate of 186.21%.

New maple products in the British market

New products with maple ingredients in the U.K., top five launch types, January 2012 to December 2016
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New formulation Relaunch New product New variety-range extension New packaging
2016 1 4 13 31 12
2015 3 5 14 21 7
2014 0 0 13 11 1
2013 3 1 11 10 5
2012 0 1 5 9 2

Source: Mintel, 2017

Among the 61 new products launched in 2016, half were new variety/range extension launches. Maple products are increasingly being used as a flavoring agent, rather than syrup. This is in line with the novelty trend in the UK, where consumers are looking for new, fresh products and flavors instead of their traditional foods.

New products with maple ingredients in the United Kingdom, By categories, January 2012 to December 2016
Sub-Category 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total Sample
Meat products 2 3 2 5 7 19
Snack/cereal/energy bars 0 0 1 2 7 10
Pastry dishes 4 3 3 5 5 20
Cold cereals 1 2 2 8 3 16
Syrups 2 5 2 6 0 15
Total sample 17 30 25 50 61 183

Source: Mintel, 2017

From 2012 to 2016, 183 products containing maple were launched in the United Kingdom. From 2012 to 2016, the subcategory with the most launches was Pastry Dishes with 20 products. However, from 2012 to 2015, maple syrup figured in the most popular launched products. However, in 2016, there were no syrup launches. In fact, meat products and snacks/cereals/energy bars dominated the 2016 launches, each representing 11.5% of all launches. The rise of the on-the-go lifestyle might explain the sudden jump of snack products, which went from two launches in 2015 to seven in 2016. Over the years, maple has been increasingly used as a flavoring agent to dress up a meat product or to sweeten snacks while adding a meaningful health claim. The shift in the popular form of maple can be explained by both the health awareness trend and the new flavor-seeking trend.

New products with Maple Ingredients in the U.K., top five categories, January 2012 to December 2016
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Meals and meal centers Snacks Processed fish, meat and egg products Breakfast cereals Sweet spreads
2016 13 20 12 3 1
2015 8 6 8 8 6
2014 6 4 4 3 3
2013 6 3 5 3 5
2012 5 1 3 1 2

Source: Mintel, 2017

The change in leading category is very interesting. From 2012 to 2015, the leading category was “meals & meal centers”. However, there was a phenomenal jump in 2016 for the snacks category, which went from 6 launches to 20, in one year. The universalization of the “on-the-go” lifestyle is apparent in the distribution of the launches: fewer breakfast cereals and spreads were launched as consumers are less attracted to the idea of a sit-down breakfast, and prefer portable food options like snacks. The challenge in the sweets spreads category is that currently, honey is leading with its extremely strong health appeal, particularly amongst older, more experienced cooks. Also, it is used in most “wet” desserts, like cake and pies. However, since maple syrup has a similar texture, it could be promoted as an alternative to honey.

Furthermore, the worldwide snacking trend made a massive breakthrough this past year. Paired with the health awareness mega-trend, maple is the ideal “fresh” sugar substitute. The free-from market has been growing at an impressive rate, and is expected to keep rising. This is good news for maple, as its recent introduction into the market also attracts new flavor-seeking consumers. Adventurous consumers will appreciate the distinct flavor of maple, and this is an advantage maple has over honey, whose taste is known to all.

New products with maple ingredients in the U,K. by Top 10 claims, January 2012 to December 2016
Claim 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total Sample
Ethical - environmentally friendly package 7 11 10 25 27 80
Vegetarian 4 8 7 17 25 61
No additives/preservatives 3 12 9 13 20 57
Low/no/reduced allergen 0 6 7 4 15 32
Gluten-free 0 6 7 4 14 31
Ease of use 2 5 5 6 11 29
Social media 0 2 5 6 13 26
Premium 3 4 2 7 10 26
Low/no/reduced transfat 2 5 4 4 6 21
Ethical - animal 3 3 1 7 4 18
Products launched 17 30 25 50 61 183

Source: Mintel, 2017

Claims are becoming a huge selling tactic for manufacturers. A report on sweet spreads by Mintel estimates that “one in four global chocolate spread launches bears one or more natural claims.” Furthermore, the report indicates an increased number of launches bearing an eco-friendly certification. In fact, the environmental awareness trend is also very present in the United Kingdom, as British people feel that such issues are becoming a progressively more urgent matter. The top declining claims for products containing maple are believed to be “Low/No/Reduced Fat”, “On-the-Go”, “High Protein” and “Premium” with a decline of -100% along with Vegetarian, with a drop of -28.6%.

Top 5 companies that launched products containing maple in the U.K., 2016
Company # Product launches Market share
Marks & Spencer 19 10.4
Asda 18 9.8
Tesco 15 8.2
Waitrose 15 8.2
Sainsbury's 11 6.0
Total products launched 183 100.0

Source: Mintel, 2017

All the companies featured in the top five are domestic companies. Together, they occupy about 42.6% of the market in terms of launches in 2016. The top launching companies all had one thing in common: their most popular claim was “ethical – environmentally friendly package”. Also, in general, “fair trade and eco-friendly products are increasingly present in Europe.”

Distribution channels

The vast majority of new maple products launches between 2012 and 2016 were located in supermarket, with a market share of 43% of all maple products launches. Mass merchandisers/hypermarkets follow with 14% and natural/health foods occupied 12%. Department stores, convenience stores and other distributors shared the remaining 31% of total launches.

Distribution channels and number of private label versus branded product containing maple ingredients in the U.K., January 2012 to December 2016
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Branded Private label Total sample
Supermarket 767 329 1096
Mass merchandiser/hypermarket 290 71 361
Natural/health food store 298 10 308
Department store 65 85 150
Convenience store 65 72 137

The most popular package type from 2012 to 2016 was “flexible”, representing 32.8% of all launches. The most popular price was US$3.99, however only 0.47% of launches using a flexible package priced their product at US$3.99. Overall, the price distribution is very scattered, with no price representing more than 2.27% of all launches.

Maple package types and their prices in US Dollars in the U.K., January 2012 to December 2016
Price in US Dollars Flexible Bottle Flexible stand-up pouch Tub Tray Total number of products
3.99 USD 0.47% 0.12% 0.47% 0.39% 0.08% 2.27%
4.99 USD 0.74% 0.27% 0.55% 0.04% 0.12% 2.19%
6.99 USD 0.08% 0.23% 0.51% 0.39% 0.12% 1.80%
2.99 USD 0.39% 0.35% 0.27% 0.20% 0.08% 1.68%
9.99 USD 0.12% 0.12% 0.67% 0.12% 0.08% 1.53%
Total number of products 32.8% 14.2% 11.4% 9.9% 6.9% 100.0%

Source: Mintel, 2017

New product examples

Mega Maple & Pecan Clusters
Company Brand Category Launch Type Price Pack Size Date Published Claims
Morrisons, UK Morrisons (Private Label) Breakfast Cereals > Cold Cereals Relaunch $2.27 500.00g Dec 2016 Ethical - Environmentally Friendly Package, No Additives/Preservatives, Vegetarian

Morrisons Mega Maple & Pecan Clusters have been relaunched, formerly under the M brand. The product comprises clusters of oats, crisped rice and wheat flakes with pecan nut pieces and maple syrup. It is suitable for vegetarians, contains no artificial colours or flavours, is a source of fibre, and retails in a 500g partly recyclable pack.

Maple, Toasted Rice & Pink Salt Organic Dark Chocolate
Company Brand Category Launch Type Price Pack Size Date Published Claims
Doisy & Dam, UK Doisy & Dam Chocolate Confectionery > Chocolate Tablets New Variety/Range Extension $1.99 40.00g Oct 2016 Digestive (Functional), Gluten-Free, Low/No/Reduced Allergen, No Animal Ingredients, Organic, Vegan

Doisy & Dam Maple, Toasted Rice & Pink Salt Organic Dark Chocolate with 74% Dominican cocoa is made with Himalayan pink salt, which contains 84 minerals to help detoxify the body. This gluten-free handmade chocolate is suitable for vegans, said to be delicious, and retails in a 40g pack featuring the EU Green Leaf logo.

Maple Caramelised Nuts
Company Brand Category Launch Type Price Pack Size Date Published Claims
Waitrose, UK Waitrose Christmas (Private Label) Snacks > Nuts New Variety/Range Extension $6.16 175.00g Nov 2016 Seasonal

Waitrose Christmas Maple Caramelised Nuts have been launched for Christmas 2016. The product comprises cashew nuts coated with maple syrup, sesame seeds and chia seeds, and retails in a 175g pack.

Maple Bacon & Gruyere Quiche
Company Brand Category Launch Type Price Pack Size Date Published Claims
Aldi, UK Specially Selected (Private Label) Meals & Meal Centers > Pastry Dishes New Packaging $2.64 420.00g Sep 2016 Ethical - Animal, Ethical - Environmentally Friendly Package, No Additives/Preservatives, Premium

Specially Selected Maple Bacon & Gruyere Quiche has been repackaged. The product comprises maple cured bacon and Gruyere cheese baked in a double cream and free range egg custard, in a butter enriched shortcrust pastry case. It contains no artificial colours or flavourings and retails in a 420g partly recyclable   pack featuring the Grocer Food & Drink Finalist award.

Maple Peanuts with Caramel Fudge & Vine Fruits
Company Brand Category Launch Type Price Pack Size Date Published Claims
Aldi, UK Clancy's (Private Label) Snacks > Snack Mixes New Variety/Range Extension $4.00 400.00g Oct 2016 No Additives/Preservatives, Seasonal, Vegetarian

Clancy's Maple Peanuts with Caramel Fudge & Vine Fruits are now available for the festive season of 2016. This vegetarian product is a source of fibre, contains no artificial colours or flavourings, is said to be great to share, and retails in a 400g pack.

Turkey & Maple Syrup Hand Cooked Crisps
Company Brand Category Launch Type Price Pack Size Date Published Claims
Marks & Spencer, UK M&S Christmas (Private Label) Snacks > Potato Snacks New Product $2.49 150.00g Oct 2016 Gluten-Free, Low/No/Reduced Allergen, Seasonal

M&S Christmas Turkey & Maple Syrup Hand Cooked Crisps are made using specially selected British potatoes, thinly sliced with their skins on and hand cooked in small batches to give a delicious and crispy snack. The gluten-free product retails in a 150g pack.

Opportunities for Canada

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) – Opportunity for Canada

CETA will help provide opportunities for Canadian producers, processors and exporters to reach the EU's 510 million consumers.

It can support you by:

Find more details: CETA for agri-food exporters.

For more information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

For additional intelligence on this and other markets, the complete library of Global Analysis reports can be found on the International Market Intelligence page.

For additional information on AGUNA 2017, please contact:

Ben Berry, Deputy Director
Trade Show Strategy and Delivery
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Sector Trend Analysis - Maple Products in the UK
Global Analysis Report

Prepared by: Amina Qacha, Market Analyst (Co-op Student)

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2018).

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