The confectionery, sweet biscuits and snack sector has seen 5 per cent growth globally from 2005 - 2006 and the Asia Pacific and Latin American regions emerged as some of the fastest growing in the report, recording 6 per cent and 11 per cent growth respectively, compared to just 2 per cent in Europe. "Consumers in this market are becoming more willing to purchase these treats as they gain in spending power, causing these categories to show double-digit growth," said the report. In China, the most popular category was non-chocolate confectionery which grew 24 per cent. Cookie-type products also experienced growth with a 19 per cent increase. Despite anti-obesity concerns turning consumers to healthier indulgences, chocolate enjoyed a global growth value of $1.9 billion over the past year and was the strongest performer in the confectionery category – contributing the largest value growth. According to the report: "New product introductions and pricing increases were part of the story but some markets also noted a focus on the health benefits of chocolate, which also may have helped spur growth." The 2006 edition of What's Hot Around the World – Insights on Growth in Food & Beverage Products covers more than 75 per cent of the world's population, who contribute more than 90 per cent of the world's GDP. What is clear from the report is the continued focus on health and freshness, the need for convenience and the continuing need for value across all food markets. The AC Neilsen survey underlines the fact that the world is changing – and that food manufacturers must react to these changes in order to maintain their competitiveness. The overall message is that while these changes present challenges, they also open up new opportunities. "More so than any time in our world's history, we are able to identify and understand the shifts in the environment, the global economy and in the rapidly developing markets," said AC Neilsen. "Today's developing markets will be tomorrow's core for FMCG marketers – India will overtake China in terms of population before 2050, becoming the number-one and two populations in the world."