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Mr Kipling maker says low-sugar products helped to drive sales

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<span>Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

The maker of Mr Kipling cakes has reported stronger than expected sales in the three months to early July as customers tucked into low-sugar versions of their sweet treats.

Premier Foods, which makes store cupboard staples such as Bisto gravy and Sharwood’s cooking sauces, said its total sales for the last quarter were lower than last year because of a boom in home cooking during the first coronavirus lockdown but sales had climbed by 6.3% compared with two years ago.

The company pointed to the success of its new food categories, which have gathered pace over the past year because of an increase in sales from its Mr Kipling, Cadbury baking mixes, Cape Herb & Spice and Oxo rubs and marinades – and achieved more than £6m.

The company has maintained its growth momentum after an increase in at-home eating last year, driven by strong growth in the company’s branded sweet treats, including Mr Kipling, which grew by 3.2% in the past year and was 3.7% higher than two years ago.

Alex Whitehouse, Premier’s chief executive officer, said Mr Kipling sales alone were 7.5% higher after introducing low-sugar options – such as Mr Kipling Angel Slices – and a “signature collection” of premium range of cakes and fancies. Premier also sold more Cadbury’s cake mixes in the quarter, thanks to a late Easter, which resulted in more home baking in early April.

Customers have also increased their appetite for Sharwood’s low-fat cooking sauces, which have grown at more than twice the rate of Premier’s branded portfolio, as many “continue with their recently adopted good healthier eating habits” and at-home dining, according to Whitehouse.

Sales of the Sharwood’s brand, which now includes vegan cooking sauces, have grown by 25% over the last two years, during which time it has gained market share and increased household penetration as more households have discovered the brand while eating in during the coronavirus lockdowns, Premier said.

Nissin noodles grew by more than 160% over the last two years and also achieved market share gains, the company added.

Premier Foods’ share price, which traded at 19.74p at the start of the pandemic, climbed 3% to 108p a share on Friday morning.

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