With pressures on the food industry to help reduce the current UK obesity crisis, consumers are becoming more willing to buy healthier options. This, the report says, could provide reasons for the growth in honey sales. The report by Mintel revealed that honey has overtaken marmalade in the sweet spreads market, and has become the second largest sector after jam. "Honey sales have done particularly well in recent years, as it has successfully highlighted its all natural credentials, making the most of Britain's recent obsession with all things natural and organic," said Julie Sloan from Mintel. According to the report, jam accounted for 35 per cent of the sweet spreads market of £89m in 2006, while honey took 26 per cent with sales at £67m, and sales of marmalade made up 21 per cent of the market with sales of £52m. Peanut butter then made up 10 per cent of the market, chocolate and nut spreads 5 per cent, fruit curds 2 per cent, and syrups and treacle one per cent. According to the report, fears of nut allergies meant sales of peanut butter and nut spreads dropped by 7 per cent between 2004 and 2006, and marmalade dropped by 10 per cent. "Marmalades have often highlighted low sugar content, but today people are less interested in what has been taken away and more interested in added value or all natural products with premium ingredients," said Sloane. "Growth areas are organic, with brands highlighting their fruit content and where the fruit was grown." The report also outlined the current habit for people to snack at their desks, or while on the move, rather than to eat a proper breakfast, a market it suggests could be looked at by the sweet spreads industry. However, the Food Standards Authority (FSA) in the UK warns consumers to watch out for other words used to describe added sugars, such as glucose, fructose, corn syrup and honey. In April, consumer watchdog Which? also hit out about this claiming that sugar may be listed as one of many ingredients, including honey. However, a study in the US last year suggested that honey could be substituted for sugar because of its potential health benefits, ranging from prebiotic to antioxidant. "Because honey has potential health benefits and induces a similar glycaemic response, substituting honey in place of sugar may be warranted," said Jennifer Ilana Ischayek from San Diego State University. The total 2006 sweet spreads market was worth £253m, the same as in 2004, but the report says without the growth in honey sales, the overall market would have "undoubtedly" seen sales slide. It said the total UK sweets spreads market is set to rise by just £1m this year. China is currently the largest honey-producing nation in the world, with around a 40 per cent slice of the market. The next biggest producers are the US, Argentina and Ukraine.