As far as David Smith, head of marketing at Whitworths, is concerned the figures ­ in this case, Information Resources figures ­ speak for themselves. The total market for dried fruit was up 15% in the past year to £114.9m and growth was fuelled entirely by the strong performance of so-called convenience fruit, and in particular the stellar performance of snacking products such as fruit strips and bars. Smith believes the continued success of these products creates an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, he says, you have the traditional home baking fixture in all its complexity. On the other hand, you have consumers who are shopping this confusing fixture in the hunt for products that they will not be using in a traditional manner. They may be adventurous cooks who want nuts to sprinkle on salads or to use in stir fries à la Jamie Oliver, or they are busy mums who want the convenience of cake mixes. By the same token, says Smith, there's a band of younger, health-conscious consumers helping turn the image of old-fashioned fruit on its head and in so doing are boosting demand for conveniently packaged products. And it is this dramatic rise in fruit snacking that brings the dilemma into sharp focus. In short: should products which are enjoying year-on-year growth of 128.6% remain tucked away in the home baking aisle? Smith hopes to work with retailers to improve instore merchandising of dried fruits and create displays with more impact in the home baking fixture. Beyond that, Smith hopes to encourage the supermarkets to dual site around stores or, best of all, create dedicated fixtures for healthy snacking products in which dried fruit will have a star billing. It will take time, and to date the progress has been slow, but Smith is adamant that within 18 months or so, the market will see moves towards the latter, where what are effectively impulse lines will be stripped out of home baking and merchandised in more appropriate areas of the store where sales can be maximised. The result? "I believe we will end up with a really dedicated home baking category which is well segmented with real consumer focus and much easier to shop," says Smith. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}