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What are the most popular pure sugar biscuit applications in crises?

23/04/2020 By Ben Eastick in Applications Baking, Golden syrup

Consumers have been quick to stockpile supplies of biscuits since the outbreak of coronavirus, which is a trend that Ragus has experienced before. This blog explains why biscuits are sought-after during times of adversity and examines which pure sugar biscuit applications have been most popular in three different crises.

The relationship between pure sugars, biscuits and crises

Pure sugars and syrups are crucial ingredients in biscuits of all types. Depending on the type of biscuit being produced, different pure sugars are used because each product results in a different taste, colour and texture.

But why does biscuit consumption tend to increase in crises? Largely because certain industries perform better than others during times of adversity, with food being a prime example. As food is essential, demand and sales of food products are generally sustained, and some sectors even grow. Biscuit consumption is typically one such beneficiary of this trend.

Furthermore, shelf-life longevity also helps the biscuit sector thrive during crises. Pure sugars have humectant properties and therefore extend how long biscuits can be both available for sale and stored in consumer’s homes.

Now we have outlined this relationship between pure sugars, biscuits and crises, it is important to put this theory to the test.

Traditional speculaas cookies in windmill shape
Pure sugars are critical for biscuit manufacturing.

Rationalisation of lines during the Second World War

The consumption of most foodstuffs decreased in the Second World War as rationing formed an essential part of the war effort. Biscuit consumption was no different. For instance, McVitie’s 370 pre-war products were rationalised to just ten core lines by 1945. However, what is notable is that biscuits remained a fixture in people’s lives in some capacity, often being remembered as the luxury items that many took comfort from.

The biscuits that survived this rationalisation were those that we would now consider as traditional biscuits, or household favourites. Perhaps the most obvious pure sugar application is a digestive. The application of Ragus’ bespoke partially inverted cane syrup helps to increase the sweetness of McVitie’s digestives while helping to preserve the quality of their structure.

However, not everyone could access branded products at the time, and many people would instead bake homemade biscuits. Wartime oatmeal molasses cookies are a common example of this. With soft brown sugar harder to come by, molasses was used as a substitute, allowing families to create their own luxury biscuits.

The application of Ragus’ partially inverted cane syrup helps McVitie’s digestives maintain their renowned structure.

Household favourites thrive despite economic recession in the 1970s

The economic turmoil of the 1970s, culminating in the Winter of Discontent, involved food shortages across the UK as strikes regularly ground the nation to a standstill. During this period, Ragus was formally acknowledged by United Biscuits Limited for its commitment to delivering tankers of syrups despite the road haulage strikes. Actions such as these meant that the biscuit industry could thrive in the 1970s – manufacturers were supplied, and consumers could still afford the products.

Like the Second World War, the biscuits that sustained best were those household favourites, such as bourbons, custard creams and rich teas. The application of glucose syrup is crucial to the production of these biscuits, helping maintain their structure by preventing crystallisation. When glucose syrup supplies were depleted, golden syrup was sometimes used an alternative, but this application causes the end product to be much sweeter.

Cookie sales increase as a result of coronavirus

The outbreak of coronavirus has resulted in similar trends as consumers have stockpiled biscuits to enjoy now and store in cupboards for later. While in the past, the most popular pure sugar biscuit applications in crisis were household favourites – as was only natural for a sector that was still developing – current evidence suggests that cookies and biscuit bars are more popular today.

In fact, a recent survey showed that online cookie sales increased by 147% in March 2020 compared to March 2019. As cookies vary so widely in their style and taste, the application of pure sugars varies greatly too. For instance, cookies baked on an industrial scale often use soft brown light sugar and partial invert syrup to improve taste and consistency. Whereas, artisans bakers have more freedom to use different types of pure sugar in their recipes, applying different varieties of soft brown sugar or muscovado sugar to suit more specific needs.

While household favourites continue to perform well, the evolution of the biscuit sector has meant that other styles of biscuits are now more fashionable. This is a natural symptom of an industry that is robust in the face of adversity.

Ragus has over 90 years’ experience supplying essential pure sugars and syrups during crises. To learn more about our products, please contact our Customer Services Team. To see more sugar news and updates, continue browsing SUGARTALK and follow Ragus on LinkedIn. 

Ben Eastick

A board member and co-leader of the business, Ben is responsible for our marketing strategy and its execution by the agency team he leads and is the guardian of our corporate brand vision. He also manages key customers and distributors.

In 2005, he took on the role of globally sourcing our ‘speciality sugars’. With his background in laboratory product testing and following three decades of supplier visits, his expertise means we get high quality, consistent and reliable raw materials from ethical sources.

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