The research, complied by market analysts Leatherhead International, shows stagnating growth in the hot snack sector while sales in snacks such as whole dried fruit and fruit bars have increased on the back of a widespread trend towards healthier eating.
Major growth and innovation in the hot snacks industry does not appear to be on the cards with health issues becoming an important factor in sales that amounted to $6.76bn (€5.39bn) last year in Japan, the US, Australia and the five largest European countries of Germany, France, the UK, Spain and Italy.
At present, the relative solidarity of the market can be attributed to consumers prioritising convenience as microwave cooking becomes commonplace at home and in the workplace.
In addition, packaging has evolved to meet the trend with new developments centered around the need for microwaveable materials capable of cooking the product more effectively and incorporating all additional consumer-friendly features such as disposable cutlery.
According to the report: "Convenience is the most important factor in driving hot snacks development. However, as the sector matures, demand for healthier alternatives will certainly increase."
Growth has been moderate in the category with sales of snack soups rising just 4.7 per cent, frozen hot-eating options increasing by 4.2 per cent and snack noodle sales falling 1.6 per cent.
In comparison, the fruit snack market looks poised for significant growth with Leatherhead predicting a 30 per cent rise in sales to $3.05bn (€2.42bn) by 2010.
The report explains: "Rising awareness of the need to consume more fruit is the key factor contributing to market growth, aided by the reformulation and repositioning of a wide range of traditional products in a format more suitable for snacking."
New product development in the sector has included incorporating additional health benefits and the introduction of 'drinkable' fruit products.