Retail sales of sweet bakery products, such as doughnuts and muffins, rose by 4.8% in 2005 to £1.3bn, in part thanks to coffee shops giving consumers a taste for premium products, according to research by TNS for Rich Products.

Rich’s UK sales and marke-ting director Simon Richardson said the higher demand for premium bakery products means sales growth potential in both catering and retailing. “It stands to reason that these expectations transfer to other areas of foodservice as well as retail, where low-cost multi-pack products are not hitting the mark,” said Richardson. “As consumers trade up, the opportunity for profit is immense.”

TNS found that foodservice sales of muffins rose by 19% in 2005. In the retail sector, sales of slab cakes were up by 12%, pastry tarts by 10.2%, cupcakes by 35.6% and cookies by 4.1%. Rich has introduced “larger and sweeter” cupcakes than those traditionally made in the UK.

TNS also concluded that more frequent snacking was helping to even out demand for sweet bakery products throughout the day, although the wish for “something special” was still behind 29% of purchases. For another 19% of consumers, purchases were prompted by ‘favourite’ products and, for 17%, the main reason for buying sweet bakery products was “social/entertaining”. It also pointed to a 2% increase in two years in consumption by men.

Rich has a cookie factory in Kidderminster and a bakery in Fareham, Hampshire, producing mainly David Powell product ranges. It makes frozen and ambient products for the retail and catering markets, as well as non-dairy toppings and icings for manufacturers.