Sweet-toothed Brits spends more money on chocolate than any other country in Europe, according to research from Mintel’s Global Market Navigator (GMN), which revealed that the UK consumed £3.5bn-worth of chocolate last year. Only Germany, which has 20 million more people than the UK, came close to our spend with £3.4bn in 2008.

Mintel found that the British spent £57 per head of population on chocolate in 2008, compared to Belgium (£48 per head) and Germany (£41 per head). Only Switzerland spent more on chocolate £111 per head of population.

Even during the credit crunch, the UK market grew by 4% in 2008 (compared to 7.4% in 2007). Mintel GMN forecasted continued expansion of 5.8% in 2009 followed by year-on-year increases of 5% until 2013, when the market is expected to be valued at £4.4bn.

Steve Charlton, managing director of Mintel GMN, says: "These figures demonstrate that the British love of chocolate remains as strong as ever. The fact that we buy more chocolate than any other European country, despite recesssionary pressure and our comparative lack in size, shows where the priorities of sweet-toothed Brits lie."

There is also clear segmentation in the UK, with countline products the biggest sector accounting for 34.1% of sales and worth nearly £1.2bn.

Boxes of assorted chocolate make up 22.7% of sales and there are also ’seasonal bursts’ of novelty chocolate sales around Christmas and Easter representing 12.9% of the market with a value of £451m.

Meanwhile, it seems new product development has not been suffering due to the economic downturn.

Mintel’s Global New Products Database revealed that new chocolate product launches in the UK were up from 345 in 2007 to 439 in 2008.

However, it seems us chocoholics in the UK are developing a healthier appetite when it comes to this guilty pleasure.

Reduced-sugar chocolate launches rose from six in 2007 to 26 in 2008; gluten-free chocolate launches from 13 to 40; and additive-free chocolate from 22 to 46 launches.