The research shows a 40 per cent rise in chilled desserts since 2001 - climbing to £390 million (€572.6m) last year. Given the significant interest in healthy and better-for-you products that have come to dominate the market, the results are surprising but welcome news for British dessert producers. Mintel senior market analyst Vivianne Ihekweazu said: "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." Although cream cakes currently account for the largest percentage of sales with 30 per cent or £115 million (€168.8m) of the market last year, it is cheesecakes that are tipped as having the biggest potential for growth. The American-style indulgence has an 8 per cent share of the market, taking in £33 million (€48.4m), but shows substantial growth of 57 per cent from 2004-2006. Mintel suggests the rising popularity of the dessert is due to a consumer trend for sharing indulgences and retailers pushing the product towards new markets and introducing a greater variety of recipes. Elsewhere in the chilled desserts sector sponge puddings are the second largest category and trifle the third. The former holds an 11 per cent share of the market and the latter 9 per cent. The hot weather did not dissuade consumers as trifle sales grew 13 per cent between 2004 and 2006 despite heatwaves and mild winters.
Alongside the growth of desserts has been a corresponding rise in the custard sector. This small market has seen sales growth of 22 per cent in the two-year period under examination and reached total value of £11 million (€16m). Mintel predicts growth of around 20 per cent over the next five years, reaching £0.5 billion (€0.7bn) by 2011. In order to target the market now, the researchers suggest concentrating on the traditional aspect of such products. Ihekweazu said: "One way to help boost the market further would be for manufacturers to revive the joy of afternoon tea.