Home baking on the rise

chazAt first glance home baking might not seem a very sexy market, but it has a lot going for it in these tough times. Taking out the effects of inflation from rising commodity prices, it’s still a pretty healthy sector, with plenty of profit opportunities for cash ‘n’ carries and delivered wholesalers serving neighbourhood stores. As anyone who’s ever followed a cake recipe will vouch, there’s always an ingredient you find you haven’t got in the kitchen cupboard when you need it: hence the distress purchase aspect adds another ‘dosh dimension’ for local stores, all year round.

Home baking comprises a broad spread of products – at one end are traditional ingredients like culinary nuts, dried fruit and cooking chocolate and perennial products for home baking fans such as cake decorations and flavourings and at the other, hyper-convenient lines like baking mixes and ready-made pastry.

Putting the consumers under the microscope, ABC1s and pre- and post-kids couples are the biggest users of raw baking ingredients while baking mixes have a clear C2DE profile, but the demographics are shifting.

Back in the affluent 90’s home baking was a neglected sector that marketers reckoned was of little interest to the ‘alpha consumers,’ young adults with money to spend. Back then, it had an ageing consumer base and few brands were actually putting money into it. Now it’s a different picture entirely.

First, the healthy eating trend has encouraged people to think twice about cooking from scratch and home baking. Then, the growing army of celebrity chefs and Delia Smith’s How To Cheat At Cooking have made it more socially acceptable to use ready-made ingredients in the process. Most recently, in the last couple of years, the recession has made consumers of all incomes take a whole new look at their food and what they spend on it, and if staying in really is the new going out, home baking is a big attraction.

In response, large and small manufacturers alike have taken the initiative to come up with premium products that tick all the boxes – convenient; additive-free; products inspired by the ‘treats to go’ found in coffee shop culture; and crucially, products that are ethically sound with Fair Trade, organic and other propositions.

This is a market where historically above the line spend and brand investment has been quite limited. However, in the short term, the existence of new media and specialist TV channels enables smart marketers to reach the hardcore consumers who are big home bakers while keeping their brands on a lean budget. Looking ahead, compulsory cooking lessons for all 11-14’s from 2011 should boost the UK’s food skills and start a new generation home baking en masse.