A recent mysupermarket.com survey generated the headline "You might as well eat doughnuts for breakfast as breakfast cereal", after revealing that Cheerios and Crunchy Nut cornflakes contained as much sugar as a jam doughnut.

Annoying if you are a purveyor of said breakfast cereal, but a most uplifting conclusion if selling doughnuts is your game.

And it’s not the only positive turn of events of late. Following the arrival of cupcakes and whoopie pies from the States a "cupcake effect" is playing out in the doughnut sector.

Consumers have become used to paying premium prices for a pretty and well presented product, throwing caution and calorie counting to the wind. Now latest Kantar data shows a new "premium" style of doughnuts are riding the bandwagon, with sales booming.

The total doughnut market was up 7.6% in value to £59m in the 52 weeks to June 13, 2010, and 12% in volume.

Within that, in-store/made-on-site product sales galloped ahead, up 23% to £45m, with volume up 33.7%. Pre-packed doughnut sales fell 24.4% in value and 31% in volume.

CSM marketing manager David Astles says: "As one of the first American-style indulgence products in the UK market, the doughnut is at the vanguard of the American trend sweeping the nation. Despite newcomers to the market, cupcakes and whoopie pies, sales of doughnuts remain strong, particularly when they are decorated or filled, or both."

CSM has found growth in the doughnut market is driven by premium products such as iced ring doughnuts and premium branded lines such as its Nestle Smarties doughnuts; a thaw and serve doughnut. For bakers put off doughnuts by their concerns over fiddly and messy frying, thaw and serve doughnuts are the answer, Astles says, as they meet the demand for individual decorated ring doughnuts that look freshly made.

CSM also offers a range of glossy fudge icings, which can be used as both a topping and a filling.

Fancy flavours

Supplier Vandemoortele agrees the advent of premium doughnuts is behind the sales uplift in the category. Marketing manager Chelsea Pogson explains glazed and iced doughnuts have entered the market, and filled doughnuts have also gone upmarket with new flavours of filling being used.

New shoppers are buying doughnuts and existing shoppers purchasing doughnuts more frequently.

Pogson comments: "Chocolate, strawberry and apple have always been popular flavours for doughnuts but as we are also seeing an increase in fruity flavours that tie in with the seasons such as lemon becoming more popular."

Moy Park Foodservice is also riding the doughnut wave with a thaw and serve range. These are ready to eat in 30-45 minutes from frozen they defrost at room temperature and have a shelf life of 12-24 hours. The range consists of miniature or full sized ring doughnuts in three flavours Cinnamon, Choc and Sugared.

American doughnut company Krispy Kreme can probably be held responsible for rejuvenating the doughnut category.

Last year, the company launched a patisserie doughnut range including a Black Forest doughnut with a cherry filling, topped with a cherry and chocolate shavings.

It’s funny to think that when Kripsy Kreme first came to the UK in 2003, it caused a now rather quaint sounding media rumpus over whether it would cause an obesity epidemic. A BBC documentary "Fat Profits: Making dough" in 2004 concluded: "The American operator must also overcome the voices of health campaigners. And it must convince Brits to eat a lot more doughnuts." Job done.