Doughnuts were the fastest-growing snack in the out-of-home sector last year, according to new research from The NPD Group.

New data, covering the foodservice sector, has revealed the sugary treat saw the number of servings up 11.1% compared to 2012, at 63.7 million.

Brownies were second on the list, with 54.6m servings, up 10.9% on the year before, while bacon sandwiches were third with 44.7m servings – also up 10.9%.

The fifth fastest-growing snack was croissants, up 10.4% to 54.9m servings.

According to The NPD Group, the desire for a ‘little treat’ was key to the growth of these snacks products, with 11.7% more consumers revealing that they treat themselves, which accounts for 14.5% of all snacking meal occasions during 2013.

However the study revealed that despite the growth in particular products, the trend for snacking away from home is actually declining, with visits down 2.3% in the year to December 2013, “following several years of growth”, it said.

The decline covers morning, afternoon and late snacking dayparts, down 2.9%, 2.4% and 1.7% respectively, with the declines driven by consumers aged 25- to 49 years old.

The biggest loss of appetite for snacking was among the C2DE social groups, with snack visits down by -13.1%, while visits among the more affluent ABC1s were up by +5%, it said.

In terms of the most popular products to snack on, cake came in second place to chocolate bars, with crisps coming in third.

Jessica Chambers, client development manager for The NPD Group, said: “We spent £8.1bn on ‘out of home’ snacks in 2013, so we are not losing our knack for a snack, even though some people are definitely trying to save money by snacking less often.

“And with three sweet snacks in the top five fastest growing, and nearly 425 million servings of chocolate and cake happily consumed out of home in 2013, we clearly have a sweet tooth.”