The £1.84bn biscuit market only managed to generate 0.3% growth in 2006, a slowdown that reflected consumers' desire for healthier alternatives.

The better-for-you segment has been the strongest performer, leaping 9.9% to £324m and has generated more than its fair share of NPD, with options such as Ryvita and Kellogg's ­Nutri-Grain generating some of the biggest uplifts in sales, up 14.1% and 13.6% respectively.

All the big players now have a finger in the healthy biscuit jar, with UBUK's pioneering Go-ahead! range leading. The company added new breakfast and lunch lines as well as a 40% wholegrain Fruitsters to its portfolio, backed by £1.5m.

Ryvita moved its Minis format in a similar direction to corn-based counterpart Snack-a-Jacks, with apple and caramel variants. It also splashed out £2m on a two-month TV and cinema push for its Goodness Bars.

Indulgent treats and seasonal assortments have also produced strong growth, with sales of special treats growing 7.8% to £140m.

UBUK kicked the year off by hoisting its McVitie's brand into special treats with premium Moments. It splashed out on a £2.5m campaign, predicting £10m in annual sales. The newcomer has rewarded the investment by clocking up £3.7m so far.

Chocolate biscuit bars, still the largest segment, suffered the steepest decline, down 8.1% year-on-year.

Number one brand Kit Kat played a part, with sales dropping 4.9%. It was also a disappointing year for McVitie's Chocolate Digestives, Penguin and Rocky. Among everyday brands, McVitie's Jaffa Cakes and Burton's Foods' Maryland and Jammie Dodgers managed to outrun the health trend, while crackers and crispbreads declined after recording impressive growth in 2005.n