Adding sugar to tea has overtaken breakfast cereal as the most popular use of sugar with 37% of tea drinkers adding sugar compared to 33% adding to cereal, according to Mintel in its latest report.

Despite this, the report found that British consumers are increasingly turning to artificial sweeteners or cutting down on sugar with volume sales of sugar seeing a 10% drop between 1999 and 2004.

“The rising concern about health and levels of obesity in Britain today are clearly encouraging consumers to cut back on their sugar intake. What is more, recent diets such as Atkins and GI have also had a negative impact on sugar consumption, as sugar is a real no-go for anyone following these diets,” comments David Bird, senior market analyst at Mintel.

While the volume of sugar sales has seen a decline, value sales increased by 12% between 1999 and 2004 to reach £262m. The increase has been attributed to consumers trading up to products in the premium ranges such as Fairtrade, although surprisingly organic sugar did not perform as well.

“It seems that many consumers are no longer satisfied with a conventional bag of white granulated sugar. Today’s consumers are looking for speciality sugars, such as Demerara and Muscavado, in line with the rise in fine dining in-home and the general trading up when entertaining at home,” comments Bird.

Bird also noted that the sweetener industry may well be positioned for growth now that society is increasingly concerned about the state of its health. “Manufacturers have dynamised this sector with raft of new product developments, while investing heavily in improving the taste of their product,” he said.