Builders' Bum, Busty Boobs and Butt Ugly Martians are helping to make at least one sector of the fading whole cakes market a big success. The trio are novelty cakes, a sector that's booming according to leading manufacturer Hazlewood Foods, which produces them for the major multiples. Category marketing manager James Purling says the novelty cake business is worth nearly £50m and growing at around 13% (TNS 52 w/e 16 September 2001). "These cakes are becoming increasingly popular for birthdays and celebratory occasions. They are excellent quality and offer consumers convenience," says Purling. "Another reason is licensed characters ­ they are one of the key factors in choosing birthday cakes ­ and we have a lot of them. At the moment we have the Hoobs, Butt-Ugly Martians, Fetch the Vet, Noddy and Winnie the Pooh. The biggest chunk of the market belongs to kids for licensed character cakes. Mums often buy two: one to cut up for party bags, the other as a centrepiece for family consumption." Around 36% of adults buy novelty cakes. "For Tesco we do humorous ones like Builders' Bum and Busty Boobs, which are popular for office parties," says Purling. Made of sponge, the range is extremely good value at £2.99 to £8.99, considering the amount of hand decoration involved. "One of our core skills is having excellent modellers who craft the designs and put them on cakes," says Purling. "Our sponge cakes are made in a nut free area so are suitable for anyone with an allergic reaction to nuts," he adds. The Christmas cake market, worth £24m, is also doing extremely well at 18% y-o-y growth. Purling says: "It's being driven by a lot more luxury products coming on to the market at premium prices, and the development of sponge cakes providing an alternative for people who don't like traditional fruit cakes." Convenience is a big factor, while organic Christmas cakes is also a big growth area, Purling says. He also expects to see more gifting cakes on the market. "This is an area we're looking to develop to widen the appeal of these cakes," he adds. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}