Nearly half the population like to treat themselves to indulgent foods, boding well for snacks pitched as affordable luxuries, such as doughnuts. The doughnut category grew by 7.6% in value to £59m and 12% in volume in 2010. In particular, the US-style doughnut category shows massive potential, especially among young people.

There are several varieties of doughnuts around the world, such as beignets, churros, fritters and crullers. And what makes them special is their gourmet element. So how can you stay ahead of the curve in the UK?

The gourmet doughnut trend brings many possibilities. For inspiration, look no further than how leading brands Cadburys and Mars have developed licensed doughnuts. Or if you are feeling adventurous, consider the filled varieties and the fun you can have with Flakes, Smarties, Skittles and Minstrels in the same way that leading branded cookie manufacturers did in 2009.

Market leader Krispy Kreme keeps it simple, from traditional glazed to butterscotch fudge. But why not draw inspiration from other sweet treats? Think ice cream, chocolate, rum & raisin, strawberry shortcake; you can do the same to doughnuts. Be imaginative, using all your senses, taste, smell, sight and touch creating different tastes, glazing and fillings for your customers.

Fry smaller batches for more freshness, as customers notice and appreciate this. Focus on profits and introduce multi-buy packs with a variety of your gourmet doughnuts for example, four for a special price. And think about taking part in National Doughnut Week (7-14 May 2011) a great way to increase sales and raise money for charity. CSM UK provides posters, balloons, branded collection boxes and banners to promote the week and your shop.

So get your gourmet ideas and fryers ready, it’s time to fill, squirt, glaze, decorate and merchandise your doughnuts.