The retail cakes sector was flat over the past year, with volume declines alleviated by only a moderate value sales rise, it has been revealed.

Latest Kantar Worldpanel data for the 52 weeks to Christmas 2011 shows that the number of cakes and pastries packs sold decreased by 0.9%, while spend went up 2.6%. There were mixed results in the breakdown of the sector, worth £1.75bn across the period. The largest category packaged small cakes, which accounted for a fifth of total cake sales held steady with a 3.5% value rise and volumes up 1.9%. This was largely reflected in the in-store bakeries (ISBs), up 3.7% and 2.3% respectively.

However, the second-biggest sector, large whole cakes, saw volumes fall by 7.2%. Packaged flapjacks, malt/fruit loaves and small tarts all saw double-digit declines in volume. But smaller packaged categories slices, slab/cut cakes, cake bars and large pies saw positive signs, with the latter growing by a fifth in both packaged and ISB aisles.

Muffins, a stalwart of ISBs and its second-biggest product, saw fortunes reversed in 2011, having previously posted regular year-on-year growth, with a 7% value and 4.2% volume decline.

The downturn in plant-made flapjacks was reversed, with 25% volume growth in ISB flapjacks, though from a much smaller base. But sales of ISB small tarts slumped by nearly a third.

"The total (cake) market by value is increasing not declining, However, this could be due to price increases and inflation," commented Lisa Boswell, marketing manager at CSM.

l For further insight on cake trends, see pages 19 and 21