Changing eating habits have been at the core of new biscuit market trends. While biscuit eating has traditionally accompanied hot drink consumption, sweet products have moved more firmly into the snacking arena. More food is being eaten on the go and new packaging and biscuit formats have capitalised on this. Products are being packaged in portioned packs to be regarded as portable rather than being tied to the biscuit tin. Chocolate biscuits continued to gain market share through the 1990s. The premium value attached to chocolate has been important, but so is the format's convenience, while multipacks, which sell at a discount to single products, are ideal for planned consumption or to keep in the house. The children's segment has been one of the fastest growing. Lunchboxes have been important, as has snack and after-school consumption. Children account for a quarter of UK biscuit consumption by volume and have an increasingly powerful voice in the family's grocery shopping. Important elements are attractive product design and licensed characters. Children can also be tenacious collectors, as shown in the crisps and snacks markets, and collect-and-send offer strategies have proved advantageous. Demographics will not help the highly competitive sweet biscuits sector. The longer-term fall in the number of family households ­ key purchasers of sweet biscuits ­ will slow growth in the market. Encouragingly, Mintel forecasts value growth of just over 4% over the next three years, the market reaching £1,660m in 2003. This growth comes despite the fall in traditional tea and coffee drinking occasions in the home and fierce discounting and special offer wars. Sweet biscuits purchased in the last three months Base: 1,046 housewives % Half-coated biscuits 58 Individually wrapped chocolate biscuits 47 Multipack confectionery brand biscuits 45 Sweetmeal/wholemeal biscuits 41 Tea biscuits 41 Cream biscuits 34 Ginger biscuits 31 Chocolate chip cookies 30 Shortcake, shortbread or trad baked 27 Other chocolate coated biscuits 25 Source: BMRB/Mintel {{MARKETING - P&P }}