The war on sugar is starting to have an impact, with people turning their backs on sweet baked goods and pastry products because of health concerns, according to new figures.

The number of adults snacking on sweet baked goods has fallen 12 percentage points and those snacking on pastry products by 11 percentage points, claimed market analyst Mintel. It said that only 39% of people snacked on cakes and sweet baked goods for the month to December 2015, compared to 51% the previous year. Meanwhile, there was an 11% drop in the number of consumers snacking on pies, pastries and sausage rolls to 25%.

Amy Price, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, said: “Snacking in the UK is almost universal. However, health considerations continue to play a significant role in the market. Health remains an ongoing issue for consumers, with calorie and sugar content of high relevance and, as swathes of the population try to address this, it appears to have had a knock-on effect on consumer snacking.”

Mintel added that 48% of adults said they tried to eat healthily most of the time, with 70% saying cutting down on snacks was an easy way to reduce calorie intake. Some 54% said they would be interested in healthier versions of their favourite snacks, and 70% agreed that manufacturers should be doing more to reduce sugar in snacks, with 55% also saying they would be interested in snacks flavoured with sugar alternatives such as honey or agave syrup.

wider drop

The fall in consumption of baked snacks is part of a wider drop in snacking levels, which includes ‘healthy’ snacks such as fruit (down 7%) and vegetables (down 11%). Ninety-five per cent of people said they had eaten snacks in the month to December 2015, down from 97% the previous year.

Price added: “New product development is currently failing to cater to this demand for healthier products, with low/no/reduced-calorie, fat or sugar claims accounting for a small share of product launches in 2015. This suggests that exploring healthier formats in these areas could be a way to appeal to snackers without fear of a backlash.”

Industry experts recently warned that the government’s new tax on sugar in drinks was a slippery slope and baked goods could be next.