Sales of chilled desserts like cream cakes, cheesecakes and trifle have increased by a sweet 40 per cent since 2001, to just over £390 million in 2006 according to the latest research from Mintel.
Senior market analyst at Mintel, Vivianne Ihekweazu, said. "Undoubtedly the British still have a sweet tooth as the market for chilled desserts has seen a phenomenal increase in sales despite a growing obsession with healthy eating trends.
“Although many of us are trying to lead a healthier life, not everyone can be good all the time and we are clearly still happy to reward ourselves with an occasional treat."
Often associated with the great English ritual of cream teas, the truly decadent dessert of cream cakes continues to make up the largest percentage of sales, taking 30 per cent (£115 million) of the market last year, with eclairs leading the way.
Having enjoyed strong sales growth, other old favourites sponge puddings (11 per cent) and trifle (9 per cent) make up the remaining top three desserts.
Indeed, trifle sales increased 13 per cent between 2004 and 2006 and despite the very hot summer and mild winters, sales of hot sponge puddings rose by no less than 31 per cent, suggesting that comfort food is not always linked to cold, wintery days.
No one can deny that British desserts just wouldn't be the same without custard. But rather than slaving over a hot stove making this must have accompaniment, people are turning to ready made chilled custard.
Although still a very small market, sales here have increased 22 per cent over the same two year period to reach £11 million.
But it is not all plain sailing for our British favourites, as unconventional varieties are vying for a piece of the action.
Cheesecakes, made popular by our American counterparts, now take 8 per cent of the market (£33 million) and have seen a phenomenal 57 per cent growth in the last two years alone - the fastest growth of any of the sweets on offer.
What is more, the likes of summer puddings, custard tarts and meringues have all seen sales flop in recent years.
The rising popularity of cheesecakes reflects the British desire to have indulgent desserts to share.
Retailers are also putting considerable efforts into developing this market and are driving purchases by introducing new recipes to attract new consumers and add value to the market.
Mintel estimates that over the next five years the market will see slower growth of around 20 per cent to reach just shy of £0.5 billion by 2011 (£468 million).
Vivianne Ihekweazu said, "One way to help boost the market further would be for manufacturers to revive the joy of afternoon tea.
“As most people won't be able to take part during the week due to work commitments, the weekend would be the ideal time for the family to get together and treat themselves to a proper afternoon tea with deliciously indulgent cakes."
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