Canned food has worked hard to shed its dated image and now only fruit and pasta still struggle to keep up with fresh and chilled.

The biggest sector, fish, generated sales of £410.3m, up 0.6% on 2005. Top-brand John West was a key contributor, while its nearest rival, Princes, whose ads boasted about oily fish's Omega-3 content, suffered a slight drop to £102.3m. Glenryck increased sales 13.4% to £11.3m.

The second largest sector, vegetables, increased sales by 1.8% to £326.3m. Green Giant is still king, but Princes' Napolina brand is catching up. Sales of the latter jumped 20.2% to £31.1m in the past year.

Beans were boosted by the continuing growth of Premier Foods' Branston, already the second brand, with sales of £26.3m. However, the competition has not dented sales of iconic brand-leader Heinz, which grew 3% to £172.5m.

Another icon, Spam grew 9.5% to £16.6m, in canned meat, but the sector's biggest boost came from number one brand Princes.

Canned fruit dropped 5.2% to £125.3m. Heinz did its best to boost the flagging canned pasta sector by changing the recipe of its portfolio - a first in its 80-year history - resulting in a 1.4% increase for the brand. Overall, however, the sector slipped 3.7%, dragged down by poor results from HP and WeightWatchers. n