The quick-service bakery market (QS bakery) is to see an accelerated growth rate this year, with the concept of “healthy treating” becoming “key” to driving incremental increases in visits.

A study by market research company NPD Group found that the QS bakery channel grew sales by 2.7% in the year ending December 2014 - driven by an increase in bakery visits and average spend.

For the year ahead, the company predicted there would be further expansion of branded outlets, with a focus on the south, as well as more refurbishments.

The company also stated that the category would see a further growth in visits for 2015 and 2016, up 2.2% and 2.5% respectively. The total out-of-home market was forecast to grow in visits by +1.1% in 2015 and +1.5% in 2016.

A spokesman for NPD Group said: “Alongside this outlet refreshment, product ranging will keep getting smarter, with mission-based offerings catering for the distinct ‘grab and go’ and ‘sit and enjoy’ customers.

“Hot drinks will boost average spend, especially when factored into meal deals, and the broader product ranges will allow for trading up and premiumisation, again boosting average spend per trip.

“A more balanced range will allow customers to treat themselves, but also to control how much of a ‘treat’ they are having, through different portion sizes and calorie-based product-tiering where appropriate. The concept of ‘healthy treating’ will be key to driving the incremental visits we expect to see in the channel, and communication of the idea will be central in deciding which operators and suppliers in the area benefit most from this increased traffic.”

NPD Group has been tracking the foodservice industry for 30 years.