Not surprisingly, males are the key consumer group when it comes to eating pies, according to data gathered by TNS Worldpanel on behalf of savoury pastry manufacturer Waldens.

In the out-of-home market, males account for almost double the market share of their female contemporaries. The largest male share is in the 45-64 age group at 17.3%.

Compare this to the 9.2% of females in the same bracket. Come down a generation to the 35-44 age group, and the gap narrows, but only slightly - 11.5% of males, compared to 7.3% of females.

Ian Stone, business develop-ment director of Waldens’ parent company, Apetito, says: "Pies have a very male image and a reputation for being far more filling than other traditional pastry snacks.

So, where a hungry female might be satisfied by a sausage roll or a sliced snack, males tend to go for something more substantial like a pie.

"The rest seems all to do with lifestyle. For example, one of the fastest-growing areas for pie sales over the last three years has been the roadside and leisure market (28.1% of sales).

The roadside sector is dominated by males in the 45- to 64-year-old category, such as sales reps, service providers and lorry drivers, and the leisure sector is fuelled by attendances at football matches and other sporting events."

So, where is growth coming from? Although females eat fewer pies, in public at least, it is significant that the age group that eats the most pies regardless of sex (45-64 - 26.5% market share) is also the most affluent.

"This suggests that women can be tempted into the pie market providing the quality, portion size and flavour profile match their desires," says Stone.

Finally, 16.7% of pies are consumed on Thursdays, 18.3% on Fridays, and 19.5% on Saturdays. The longer the week goes on, the harder it is to resist the temptation of the pie.