by Christina Golding
THE fight to avoid middle-age spread is affecting the sales of traditional desserts in the restaurant sector, says a new study.
Puddings have plummeted by 18% while mousse and trifle are down by 15% and 8% respectively in the year to May 1998. Even ice-cream, the most popular choice, has taken an 8% dive.
But yogurt is proving increasingly popular, up 27%, and cheesecake gained 4%.
The biggest decline in buying desserts is found in women aged 35-54, with a slight increase among males aged 35-44.
According to Taylor Nelson Sofres, which carried out the research, healthy eating is contributing to the decline, but an increase in the sale of starters could also be a factor.
The number of people picking salad as a starter has seen a 14% rise and the choice of shellfish is up by 4%. Other fish starters, however, were down by 23%.
Soup sales were static but it remains the most popular starter in restaurants and workplace canteens.
Compared with last year, eating out among those aged 16-44 increased by 5% and accounted for 69% of all meals consumed. In the non-quick-service sector, pubs were the most popular venues for eating out, with 357.3 million meals served during the year. Cafés and coffee shops served 130 million meals, while formal restaurants accounted for 126.3 million meals.
l MealTrack is a quarterly survey based on interviews of 1,200 people weekly. Taylor Nelson Sofres can be contacted on 01372 803204.