Unless you are a three-year-old, you probably don't think about the Teletubbies too often. The psychedelic quartet have been a big name in the kids' pasta market, along with the likes of Scooby-Doo, Winnie the Pooh and SpongeBob SquarePants.

But, with parents watching the pennies more carefully than ever, sales figures suggest pasta products that rely on kids' characters could be feeling the pinch.

"Character pasta is 64% of the £8m children's canned pasta market but, according to IRI data for the year to 5 September, volume sales declined by 8.5%," says Premier Foods head of category Carine San Juan.

One possible reason for the slump is families eating together more often, which would mean mums were buying separate products for children less often.

Another issue for suppliers and retailers is the fickle nature of children particularly the under-sixes targeted by such products.

"The character pasta market is a tricky one as it is dependent on having the right character licence at the right time there can be a short window of opportunity that can change overnight."

There are some characters whose appeal is more lasting, however, says Heinz.

"Timeless licences are the top sellers. For girls this is Disney Princesses and for boys it is Thomas & Friends, which have both been top sellers for years," says a Heinz spokeswoman.

Premier says its best-selling licensed pastas include SpongeBob SquarePants and In the Night Garden. It has also just extended its Crosse & Blackwell 4 Kids range with a Roary the Racing Car line, and from February will add CBeebies' Third and Bird to the range.

Focus On Pasta & Pasta Sauces