Sales of cakes and cake bars have enjoyed significant growth, according to the latest data from Mintel, with seven out of 10 consumers purchasing them on a regular basis.

Retail sales of cakes and cake bars increased 18% in value from 2005 to 2009, to reach £1.63bn. The market intelligence firm said sales growth had been boosted by high levels of product development and a focus on premium and indulgent lines – a trend also seen with sweet biscuits.

Speaking at the recent IFE exhibition, Jane Barnett of Mintel said research had shown that unwrapped/fresh cakes experienced the highest market penetration, but that wrapped cakes were not far behind, reflecting the rising popularity of convenience formats.

The data also showed these products were generally eaten on an infrequent basis – once a week or less, and that children were a key driver of impulse purchases.

Consumption and usage of cakes in any format was considerably lower among over-55s and those from wealthier backgrounds. Within the biscuit sector, chocolate flavours have dominated recent new launches, whether milk, dark or white.