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Packaged Cookies

What are Cookies?
Generally speaking , a cookie can be defined as a small, flat baked dessert. It is usually also known as biscuit. However, in certain parts of the world Cookie and Biscuit are two different things – a cookie is a plain bun in Scotland while in USA a biscuit is a kind of quick bread some similar to a scone. And in the UK the term cookie often just refers to chocolate chip cookies or a variation for instance cookies containing oats.

Etymology
Etymologically speaking the term cookie derives from the Dutch word koekje or (informal) koekie which means little cake. The word was adopted by the English language with the arrival of the Dutch in North America. Initially it was incorporated in the American English from where it eventually made its way into the British English though biscuit continues to be the more prevalent usage.

 

Basic Recipe
Cookies are most commonly baked until crisp or just long enough that they remain soft, but some varieties of cookies are not baked at all. Cookies are made in a wide assortment of styles, using an array of ingredients including sugars, spices, chocolate, butter, peanut butter, nuts or dried fruits. The softness of the cookie depends on how long it has been baked.

History
The craft of preparing or baking cookies is nothing but of of turning simple ingredients into wonderful things. Like cakes and pastries, cookies are also the descendants of the earliest food made by man. It is an ensuing development in the ancient process of cooking that of grain-water-paste baked on hot stones by Neolithic farmers 10,000 years ago. The development of cookies from these primitive beginnings is an account of refinements inspired by two different impulses - one being plan and practical, the other of luxury and taste.

Invention of cookies represent the emergence of the first convenience foods: A flour paste, cooked once, then cooked again to dry it thoroughly, becomes a hard, portable victual with an long storage life - perfect for traveling. The chefs of the Middle Eastern civilizations explored the culinary possibilities of sweetness and richness and in the process lightened and enriched the paste mixtures with eggs, butter and cream and sweetened them with fruit, honey and finally with sugar.

Based on this version, in chronological terms cookies thus seem to have their origins during the 7th century AD in Persia, shortly after the use of sugar became relatively common in the region. They spread to Europe through the Muslim conquest of Spain. By the 14th century, they were common in in all levels of society, throughout Europe, from royal cuisine to street vendors.

For centuries, no ship left port without enough bone-hard, twice-cooked ship's biscuit--the word biscuit comes from the Old French biscoit, meaning twice cooked - to last for months, or even years. One of the most popular early cookies, which traveled all over the world and became distinguished amongst other travel provisions across the globe was the jumble, a relatively hard cookie made largely from nuts, sweetener, and water.

 

Classification of Cookies
Cookies can be broadly categorized into the following varieties according to the different ways of making them:-

  • Drop Cookies are made from a relatively soft dough that is dropped by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. During baking, the mounds of dough spread and flatten. Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and oatmeal cookies are popular examples of drop cookies.
  • Refrigerator Cookies are made from a stiff dough that is refrigerated to become even stiffer. The dough is typically shaped into cylinders which are sliced into round cookies before baking.
  • Molded Cookies are also made from a stiffer dough that is molded into balls or cookie shapes by hand before baking. Snickerdoodles are an example of molded cookies.
  • Rolled Cookies are made from a stiffer dough that is rolled out and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Gingerbread men are an example.
  • Pressed Cookies are made from a soft dough that is extruded from a cookie press into various decorative shapes before baking. Spritzgebäck are an example of a pressed cookie.
  • Bar Cookies consist of batter or other ingredients that are poured or pressed into a pan (sometimes in multiple layers), and cut into cookie-sized pieces after baking. Brownies are an example of a batter-type bar cookie, while Rice Krispie treats are a bar cookie that doesn't require baking, perhaps similar to a cereal bar. In British English, bar cookies are known as "tray bakes".
  • Sandwich Cookies are rolled or pressed cookies that are assembled as a sandwich with a sweet filling. Fillings may be with marshmallow, jam, or icing. The Oreo cookie, made of two chocolate cookies with a vanilla icing filling is an example.
  • Fried Cookies including traditional cookies such as the krusczyki, rosettes and fattigmann as well as a newer American trend of deep-frying ordinary drop cookie dough.
 

Market Boom In Packaged Cookies
Despite an increasingly competitive environment and the impact of a global economic downturn the cookies market all over the world is seeming to be not only alive but also is doing very well. There is regular launch of new products has proved a strong driving force behind growth in the packaged cookies sector, achieving a significant turnover in the recent past. The number of products within this sector has expanded substantially, with hypermarkets now stocking an average of 15 different items and supermarkets an average of nine, according to recent market survey. There has also been a 40 per cent increase in the amount of shelf space devoted to breakfast biscuits, reaching an average of 2.9 metres.

Recent studies indicate that although men and women consume the same quantity of biscuits, it is in fact the ladies who purchase them more often. This phenomenon will likely mean that food manufacturers keen to push their cookies should target women.

 

Marketing Strategy Focus
The manufacturer of the packaged cookies should obviously primarily focus on the consumer and his/her preferences. So the product should fulfill as one consumer puts it “if you are going to indulge in a moment of pure pleasure, make sure it's as good as it possibly can be”. With many of us pursuing a healthier eating agenda, indulgence means treating ourselves to something special – perhaps with a treat at the end of a hard day or long week. It’s been dubbed the credit/debit balance and, on the back of it, the premium end of the biscuit market continues to grow. The producer can sell his product or drive his business forward by making sure that the cookies/biscuits hit this indulgence craving with a better class of taste and nutritional value. The focus should be on the following:-

  • A strong brand identity
  • Compelling new pack designs
  • Exciting new product development,
  • Clever marketing and promotions must combine to ensure that more consumers try the cookies/biscuits.

Indian Context – Cookies industry in India in the organized sector produces around 60% of the total production, the balance 40% being contributed by the unorganized bakeries. In the organized sector Parle and Britannia still hold sway over packaged cookies business segment. The packaged cookies market is witnessing stagnant growth rates in value terms, with any attractive rate of growth restricted to the low-priced segment.

 

Market For A Healthy Alternative
The biscuit market is dominated by short dough biscuits having fat levels in excess of 20%. Biscuits are therefore an obvious choice when consumers are asked to reduce their total fat intake. Traditionally high-fat and high-sugar biscuits are not associated with healthy diets by most consumers; therefore there is a need on the part of the producer to modify and cater to this need of a healthy alternative. The modification of a standard biscuit is possible by the addition of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Vitamin C and Prebiotic fiibre, while reducing salt and sugar, thereby converting a traditional food product into a functional one. The development of a commercially viable biscuit attractive to children and adults that will have a significant reduction in fat and sugar, with fewer calories and contain nutrients designed to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease is highly desirable.

 
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