Despite the inexorable rise of convenience foods and the cash-rich, time-poor consumer, many parts of the world are gaining a high level of interest in home baking from scratch.
Editor’s note: The sell-out crowd at Melbourne’s Cake Bake and Sweets Show in October confirms interest in baking is booming. It’s no surprise; the popularity of Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules and the Great Australian Bake-Off has seen home cooks become enthusiastic home bakers, forking out considerable amounts for edible glitter and piping bags. Exactly how many Australians bake at home is a hazy figure, but the general consensus is around two-thirds have had a go in the last year, compared with only a third back in 2011.
But what does this mean for the professional baking sector? For a start, customers are demanding more premium ingredients and they have a better understanding of what ingredients should and shouldn’t be in baked products. It’s also opening up opportunities for chef-endorsed lines, with Adriano Zumbo’s bake-at-home kits a prime example.
Where the trend goes, neither bakers nor analysts are sure. But it is safe to say a knowledge-rich consumer base will act as a catalyst to push quality and innovation in the market.
There are some countries, such as the US and the UK, which had moved away from home baking in recent years. Consumers were showing clear preference for buying prepared cakes in a ready-to-eat format, tending to lose interest even in bakery mixes, let alone baking from scratch.
It is these latter nations, however, that are now seeing a reversal in fortunes for the home baking market, with it rising again from the ashes, driven initially perhaps by financial constraints but more recently by the runaway success of TV shows featuring celebrity chefs and bakers, perhaps most famously the UK’s Great British Bake Off
This has impacted not only on the ingredients used for baking from scratch, such as flour, culinary fruit and nuts and decorations and coatings, but also the bakery mixes market, which can still provide an acceptable middle ground between going totally back to basics and buying in fully prepared convenience options.
Launches of bakery ingredients and mixes recorded by Innova Market Insights rose to more than 5000 globally in the 12 months to the end of March 2014, accounting for more than 14.5 per cent of total bakery introductions in the same period, up from 13.5 per cent in the previous 12-month period and from less than 10 per cent five years previously.
As might be expected with the number of countries, cultures and cuisines involved, Europe led launch activity, with nearly 37 per cent of the total. Western Europe alone accounted for nearly 30 per cent of launches, while Asia had about one-fifth, North America 16 per cent and Latin America just less than 10 per cent.
The significance of bakery ingredients and mixes for each region can perhaps be better illustrated in terms of share of bakery launches as a whole. Australia leads here, with ingredients and mixes accounting for more than 30 per cent of total bakery launches in the country, ahead of the US with more than 22 per cent, Latin America with just more than 16 per cent and Western Europe with more than 15 per cent.
There are significant differences between countries, however, with the rise of home baking in the UK, resulting in launches reaching more than 20 per cent of total bakery introductions. This is up from 10 per cent five years previously and taking it well ahead of the Western European average.
There has been a growing focus on premium products, including chef-endorsed lines, new formats such as liquid mixes, ready-to-use packs, and more complex and sophisticated decorative options, as well as a whole range of character-licensed products for the children’s market.
This momentum will need to be maintained as companies seek to improve the accessibility of home baking and offer increasingly sophisticated and value-added innovations and novelties.