Hot savoury pastry snacks are the fastest-growing segment within the European bakery market, according to the latest report by research company Gira.

Despite the relatively small size of the segment around one million tons Gira said it offered excellent growth prospects for both manufacturers of packaged goods, and bake-off producers.

It accounted for just 3% of 2010 total bakery consumption in the main 16 European markets covered in its study, including the UK, "but it also shows the highest growth rate: +2% year-on-year until 2014, against 0.2% for overall bakery products".

Gira’s 2010 data revealed that in the UK, the majority of the consumption in this segment of the market is of pre-packed chilled items around 70%, with around 20% coming from fresh, and 10% from pre-packed frozen.

Gira said the chilled pre-packed market would remain steady in the UK, with the growth to come from increasing sales of fresh and pre-packed frozen products, as the food-to-go market continues to expand.

"In the UK, sales of fresh un-packed savoury snacks have developed through specialist outlets as well as through the development of supermarket multiples’ hot food counters. Demand has also benefited from higher-quality ingredients," Gira told British Baker.

The research group suggested that, within Europe, petrol stations and convenience stores were promising sectors for growing sales of bake-off hot savoury pastry products, and said the increasing popularity of these products had already been seen in their rising sales in the commercial catering sector, such as coffee shops.

"These products are now even taking market share from the traditional ’fast food’ sector," noted the report.