Although sandwiches were historically made to use up old meat and stale bread, consumers now regard the product as a snack or light lunch treat in its own right, and so expect manufacturers to comply with the same industry trends affecting other food products. According to the report "Sandwiches: No longer left on the shelf" from market researchers Mintel, sales of the light lunch product rose nine per cent over the 2006-2007 year period. The increase was a victory for manufacturers, Mintel said, as they had previously struggled to boost sales of £3.3bn (€4.7bn) in 2002, facing competition from "glamorous" light lunch or snack products such as salads, soups and sushi. Between 2002 and 2006 average year on year growth in sandwich sales was recorded at the lower figure of 3.5 per cent. One of the major factors in the recent boost has been products targeted at consumers looking for healthy choices, Mintel said. "With the likes of superfood and wheat-free varieties now available, sandwiches increasingly appeal to the rising number of Brits looking for naturally good and wholesome food," said senior market analyst Vivianne Ihekweazu. Ihekweazu also praised the wider range of sandwiches now available, stating that Brits are generally turning away from cheese and ham and towards ethnic flavours such as Middle Eastern falafel or Oriental chicken. However, any manufacturers of any sandwich variety must promote their products as being ethically and environmentally friendly, as consumers are increasingly concerned with issues such as recycling and animal welfare. "For example, by considering the carbon footprint of a product, or its local sourcing credentials may satisfy Britain's burgeoning sense of ethical responsibility and create a unique selling point," Ihekweazu said. Mintel believes that the industry will continue to sustain current sales growth over the next five years, predicting that sales will go through the £5bn (€7.1bn) mark by 2012, a 22 per cent gain from current levels. Sandwich sales have received some bad press in recent months, with industry experts accusing manufacturers of making the product unhealthy. In July, a study by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) specifically attacked sandwiches in the UK, saying many of them contain the same amount of salt as seven bags of crisps. The UK population therefore consumes 3,000 tonnes of salt every year just from packaged sandwiches, CASH claimed. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) told BakeryandSnacks.com at the time that eating salty sandwiches would already add to unhealthy levels of the flavouring in an individual's daily diet, and over-consumption of salt can lead to healthy problems such as cardiovascular disease and strokes. Furthermore, consumers have been shunning the traditional salad cream spread in sandwiches, according to an earlier Mintel report. UK consumers will spend only £49m (€69.5m) on salad cream this year, compared to £97m (€138m) on continental mayonnaise, Mintel said.