NEW statistics have shown that a one-time staple of the breakfast table is dwindling in popularity, with young people in particular giving the preserve a wide berth.

Consumer research experts Kantar Worldpannel have found that just one per cent of marmalade buyers in UK were under 28 in the past year, compared to six out of 10 being 65 or over.

Overall sales of the traditional orange condiment fell by 4.7 per cent to £53 million in the four years since 2013, suggesting it is a spread on the slide.

Maria Whitehead, co-owner of Hawkshead Relish Company, acknowledged marmalade was something that tended to be enjoyed more by older people, but recognised ways to boost its popularity.

"Inherently it is considered more of an old-fashioned condiment," she said. "Marmalade tends to have bits in and for children in particular that can be an issue – textures certainly have an impact.

"But there's more interest if they have extra flavours in them. We find things like Mojito marmalade is interesting a younger generational group and creating new products to target a younger audience is something we work closely to achieve while maintaining the core customers who are more used to the Seville orange."

Jane Hasell-McCosh, who founded the World Original Marmalade Festival at Dalemain Mansion, Penrith, rejected claims that marmalade was no longer popular, saying it was the way it is used that is changing.

"The fault with these statistics is they're saying people tend to have it on buttered toast for breakfast," she said. "What we've introduced is marmalade to be eaten with savoury foods like meats, cheeses and fish and that has developed into a hugely popular category for makers and they're developing the most wonderful marmalades.

"When I started the awards it was very much the older generations taking part, but what's exciting now is people in their 20s and 30s are busy making marmalade and what's charming is they're using their grandparents' or parents' recipes.

"I would say marmalade is vibrantly alive, it's not over priced and it may well be that the poorer marmalades are dying a death, but who worries about that?"

The next Dalemain Marmalade Festival takes place over the weekend March 18 and 19.