With the annual Great British Bake Off (GBBO) furore having drawn to a close, it seems like the perfect time to get under the skin of what’s baking in our nation’s kitchens. From sophisticated free-from ingredients to evolving flavour profiles and aesthetics, it’s a complex category with a lot to unpick.
We spend £1.6bn a year on home baking products in the UK, but according to Kantar Worldpanel it’s still a market in decline. At a time when consumers are valuing health, simplicity and convenience in the kitchen, baking is often seen as indulgent, complex and time-consuming. The brands which are winning in the category are those tapping into current consumer needs to ensure they stay relevant.
Here are 10 big ideas shaping the home baking market and what we predict is around the corner.
Sugar sales are down as home bakers have a lot more choice as to how they add that all-important sweetness to their creations. The recent Whole Foods 2020 trends report highlighted sweet syrups made from starches, such as sorghum and sweet potato, as strong emerging alternatives to baking staples like molasses and honey. Just Date Syrup, made from organic, Californian, Medjool dates, won best baking product at the Summer Fancy Food Show, which reflects demand for natural sugar replacers with nutritious properties.
Portion-controlled food formats are in growth and the home baking category is no exception to the rule. Value sales grew 6.2% over the past year (Nielsen 52 w/e May 25, 2019), as consumers look for a more controlled way of indulging. ‘Mug puds’ may seem old hat, but familiar baking brands Betty Crocker and Dr Oetker are still putting their money behind these quick and easy ‘for one’ baking products.
We’re making a conscious effort to avoid food additives and that goes for baking too. With a broader range of natural food colours and flavours available, we can still make dazzling and delicious masterpieces without the E numbers and other ‘nasties.’ Contemporary bakers are using humble fruits, vegetables and plant extracts like beetroot and turmeric for natural colour, as well as real botanical flavours for a more authentic, unadulterated taste. Floral and citrus flavours from Nielsen-Massey are also the top choice for of-the-moment bakers like Juliet Sear.
Sophisticated butter replacers such as The Hemp Pantry and Fresh Better products are marketed as a like-for-like butter substitute, even for tricky applications like pastry, which means free-from bakers are no longer restricted in their creativity. Free-from cake brand Oggs are preparing to launch their aquafaba egg replacement for baking, whilst Dutch start-up Fumi Ingredients are racing to get there first with a vegan and non-GMO egg white substitute. Watch this plant-based space as dairy-free baking innovation reaches new heights.
The cherry on top
The only home baking sub-category in growth is the all-important ‘extras,’ including flavours, colours and decorations. Kantar reported a 2.3% increase in value in this sector, as bakers add magic with the final flourish. McCormick recently launched a birthday cake sugar and spice blend, whilst Nestle have added Unicorn Morsels to their home baking range for the ultimate, enchanting bake topper.
Ready-to-make baking products have gone premium as consumers demand products that satisfy special dietary requirements without compromising on convenience. Organic supermarkets such as Planet Organic sell a broad range of mixes such as gluten-free and paleo pancake blends, allowing customers to make quality and nutritious creations in the comfort of their own home. Meanwhile, Great Taste Award winners The Bottled Baking Co. sell a range of beautifully layered mixes and gift sets, thoughtfully packaged in reusable glass bottles to appeal to eco-conscious shoppers.
A wave of new recipe books has inspired home bakers to up their pie game. From Cathy Barrow’s rustic, large-format American ‘Slab Pies,’ to Julie Jones’s intricate cuts and weaves (her Instagram account has over 123k followers), the joy lies is in both simple creations and more elaborate showpieces. Let’s not forget savoury pies, Calum Franklin (also known as @chefcalum) from Holborn Dining Room has become the King of pie-making and his team offer sellout classes, teaching avid bakers the real tricks of the trade.
Made with love
One of the key trends featured in the Waitrose 2019-2020 food and drink report is based around kindness. Waitrose research reflects a “rise in the number of people cooking for loved ones, friends or colleagues,” with 21% of us making food for charity bakes, fetes and fundraisers. Donations are still being counted from the most recent Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, but the totals raised consistently increase year-on-year, reflecting the nation’s growing levels of compassion through baking. Brands that bring an element of sharing or caring into their products are reaping the benefits of this subtle cultural trend.
Sour and savoury
Be gone, sickly-sweet bakes: our palates are craving expertly balanced handiwork with complex, sophisticated flavours. Taking inspiration from Middle Eastern and Persian cuisines, for example, home bakers are incorporating sourness into their baking with ingredients such as tamarind and pomegranate. They’re also experimenting with sweet and savoury crossovers, combining ingredients like miso and sesame. Ex-GBBO star Benjamina Ebuehi releases her debut, flavour-focused recipe book The New Way to Cake in December, which follows this trend with recipes like plum and black pepper cake. Even chains like Chiquito are getting in on the act, adding chicken and beef chilli flavours to the traditionally sweet churros.
Searches for ‘bread baking’ are up five fold according to Pinterest, with an increasing number of consumers attempting fermented, flavoursome loaves with lower glycaemic indexes, using ‘better for you’ alternatives like tiger nut, einkorn or seed flours. Previously only available in specialist bakeries, these flours are quickly making their way onto our supermarket shelves in retail format as consumers increasingly look for ways to nutritionally turbo-charge their bakes.
We predict that the biggest opportunities are in healthier, specialist, premium and new-format baking products and ingredients. Future-facing baking brands must strike a careful balance between nostalgic realness and modern convenience in order to satisfy evolving consumer demands and snatch a piece of the pie.