The grey pound is swallowing the chocolate market, with the over-55s now consuming more confectionery than children.

The grey pound is swallowing the chocolate market, with the over-55s now consuming more confectionery than children.

Older people buy 21 per cent of confectionery sold in Britain, according to a report by market analysts Datamonitor. People over 55 are eating their way through almost £700m of chocolate a year.

Consumer experts said that the rise of luxury brands has marked a shift away from gimmicky children's sweets to a more lucrative market. Baby boomers who can just remember rationing may also be keen to indulge their sweet teeth in later years.

British children fall way behind their elders when it comes to spending on chocolate, chomping through just £390m a year.

But youngsters overtake the elderly when it comes to sweets, with the under-14s spending £138m on sugary treats, and a further £28m on chewing gum. The report noted that cereal bars had failed to replace chocolate as a snack for children. Only 12 per cent of all the money spent on confectionery goes on cereal bars.

People in the UK eat more chocolate than any other European country, with a 30 per cent share of the EU market.

John Band, a senior consumer analyst at Datamonitor, said: "There is now a growing tendency to view confectionery as a premium, indulgent and adult product, moving away from traditional sweet shop favourites towards more luxurious chocolates."

Manufacturers will have to make radical changes to their products to appeal to the older market, including making sweet wrappers easier to open.

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