We’ve eaten the biscuits, spread them on toast and slurped them in a latte or espresso martini, but now Britain’s Kersfees is getting the full Biscoff treatment as mince pies, desserts and gins inspired by the Belgian biscuit go on sale.
Despite being around for nearly a century, Biscoff, known for the small individually wrapped biscuits that were once an unloved giveaway in hairdressers, hotel rooms and on planes, became a sleeper hit during the pandemic. The brand’s popularity has made speculoos biscuits – which for many Europeans are associated with Christmas anyway – big news in British supermarkets this year.
Biscoff is portmanteau of “biscuit” and “coffee”, used by the Belgian company Lotus to sell speculoos overseas because it was easier to say.
Now as this year’s indulgent festive ranges start to arrive on supermarkets shelves it is clear that the taste of speculoos is everywhere for the sweet-toothed.
Aldi has tapped into several big food trends with its first vegan speculoos cheesecake. The £2.49 dessert boasts a “dairy-free speculoos filling, indulgent speculoos sauce and biscuit crumb”. It is also selling a spiced biscuit gin liqueur for £9. Rival Lidl has a cheesecake and mince tart but also a speculoos tiramisu for the first time.
The market leader, Tesco, is also in on the action with individual tarts that feature a “speculoos spiced filling, layered with spiced sponge and topped with a swirl of speculoos spiced buttercream”.
Waitrose’s innovation manager, Lizzie Conlon, said the salty, spiced caramel flavour had been growing in popularity and after the launch of a Biscoff spread had “seen it increasingly incorporated into all sorts [of foods] from iced lattes to cakes and bakes”.
Sales of Biscoff took off during the first lockdown amid a frenzied home baking scene. Bakers took to crumbling the biscuits, made with brown sugar and cinnamon, into their mixing bowls or stirring its peanut-butter-style spread to create treats worthy of Instagram and TikTok.
Sarah Sage, an associate director at the global brand agency Dragon Rouge, described Biscoff as the “trend of the moment”. It was “popping” as a key dessert ingredient all over social media, sy het gese. “It has been around for a while but it has recently undertaken a revival thanks to innovation, namely a spread, making some serious waves with TikTok foodies as a result.”
The Biscoff effect has been big news for its owner Lotus which has been plugging away with the biscuits since 1932. Indeed the huge social media buzz resulted in Lotus Biscoff fending off other snack food companies to win the most customers in 2020, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex tracker, with the company achieving a huge increase in brand recognition.
That success has continued this year. In its last financial update Lotus said Biscoff’s global sales were up by a fifth in the first six months of the year and that it was building new production lines to meet demand. Its chief executive, Jan Boone, was bullish, saying it was “fired up to conquer the world”.