Sales of biscuits, cookies and crackers increased 22% over the past five years to reach a value of £2.2bn last year, according to a new report from Mintel.

“The UK biscuit industry has benefited from consumers reaching for the biscuit barrel throughout the recession, although rising commodity costs and an inability to appeal to a younger and more discerning consumer base are threatening the market,” said Amy Lloyd, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.

“The ritualistic nature of eating biscuits with a hot drink appeals to consumers, demonstrating how ingrained this occasion is within British culture, but emphasising the need for the biscuit category to expand beyond the tea-drinking audience.”

Mintel predicted that the sweet biscuit market would reach £1.9bn in 2011, having increased 20% between 2005 and 2010, and will be worth £2.2bn by 2015.

Half-coated biscuits (such as chocolate digestives) and individually wrapped varieties are in joint first position as the nation’s favourite sweet biscuits. More than one in two (53%) Brits have bought one or other of these in the past year. The next most popular biscuits are cookies, while cream biscuits, such as Custard Creams, take third position.

Valued at £381m in 2010, the market for savoury biscuits grew 32% between 2005 and 2010, with sales set to reach £386m by the end of 2011. Sales are expected to see growth of 12% between 2010 and 2015 to reach £428m.