Hungry Brits scoffed their way through a staggering 208 million more bags of crisps in 2010 than they did the year before.

It seems consumers were more interested in comfort food and small treats as the economic crisis bit than health concerns, as volume sales for crisps rose 5.7% to 134,622 tonnes [Kantar].

This represented a whopping 7,300 tonne increase on 2009, while value sales were up 6.2% to £805.9m [Kantar 52w/e 26 December 2010].

Experts said much of the sales increase was driven by changes in consumer behaviour in the recession. Many consumers saw crisps as indulgent yet affordable while the downturn had led to a more "relaxed" attitude to health, said Mintel analyst Kiti Soinien. "The recession saw a clear increase in the tendency to treat oneself to less healthy foods, with a shift from the boom mode of self-improvement through healthy eating towards comfort food. In many ways, crisps are seen as the perfect little treat for these times."

Crisps are the UK's third-most popular snack, after fresh fruit and chocolate. According to a survey by TGI, 85% of those aged 15 or over eat crisps. Of these, 11% eat them at least once a day and 30% eat them two to three times a week.

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