The summer holidays can provide plenty of opportunities for families to try their hand at home baking and convenience stores will be expected to be well-stocked with the ingredients, plus sprinkles to top

The summer months can provide consumers with plenty of opportunities to try their hand at home baking. Whether it’s keeping the kids entertained in the holidays, preparing for summer fetes and picnics, or even being inspired by TV bakers, home baking is a must-stock category for convenience retailers.

“Home baking is reported to be worth £170m,” says Marcus Freer, managing director at SHS Sales and Marketing, which owns the Farmlea brand. “It is anticipated that the organic growth in the convenience channel, along with renewed enthusiasm, will create continued demand within the category, with 93% of consumers still choosing to bake from scratch.”

For some stores home baking is one of the strongest performing categories at certain times of the year. Emma Jenkins, owner of Milverton Stores in Taunton, Somerset, says: “We continually have strong sales across the range and our range is quite large, with a metre-long area dedicated to it. Our home-baking customers are quite varied. In our village there are a lot of families who like to bake together and there are a lot of men, women and elderly people who also enjoy home baking.”

One of the most recent trends in the market is the demand for Free-from products and reduced sugar, points out Unilever UK.

James Brennan, Flora marketing manager at Unilever UK, says: “Some 12% of UK households have a suspected dairy allergy or intolerance, but currently only 1% of the spreads market is dairy-free. This presents a clear opportunity for the category to maximise sales through product innovation which addresses this demand. Earlier this year, we added Flora Freedom to our portfolio; this new dairy-free variant ensures that those who have intolerance or an allergy, or simply want to choose Free-from products, can still enjoy a tasty spread.”

Emma tries to cover all customers’ needs with her range. “Because there is a demand for ingredients for breads and savouries as well as sweet, and we have a few customers in with different dietary requirements, we think it is important to stock a wide range,” she says.

“We stock different brands and styles of flour, from McDougalls and Heritage plain and self-raising flour to regional brand Wessex Mill, plus flours for breads and savouries as well as gluten-free products. We also stock a range of sugars, from icing, white granulated, demerara, golden granulated and light sugar.”

More opportunities with milk

Farmlea condensed and evaporated milk varieties are a versatile ingredient for home bakes, and a line c-store retailers may be missing out on.

Marcus Freer, managing director at SHS Sales and Marketing, which owns the Farmlea brand, says: “The adventurous nature of UK bakers plays strongly to convenience stores who now have the opportunity to stock a range of ingredients which may not historically been on the shopping list of customers.

“With shoppers now using on average four channels a month to meet their needs it is more likely that shoppers will pop to their local store to pick up the few items they need. With the majority creating treats from scratch, Farmlea condensed and evaporated milk has long shelf-life, too, removing retailers’ wastage risks.

The Farmlea products come in shelf-ready packaging and Freer advises retailers to merchandise Farmlea adjacent to the market-leading brands and highlight the price differentiation to promote trial. “Creating joint promotional displays alongside other baking products can inspire shoppers to buy across a range and increase their planned spend,” adds Freer.

Home baking is also a popular category for Surrey retailer Manny Patel at his Manny’s store in Long Ditton. He says: “The most popular items in the range are the cake mixes, in particular the Betty Croker and Dr Oetker ones, because they are just really simple to make and are a lot of fun for families to do together during the school holidays.

“We have customers quite regularly come in with their children and they pick out which one they want to bake together.”

Jan McKee, head of marketing at Dr Oetker, says: “Thanks to recipes on blogs and social media websites such as Pinterest, home bakers are being inspired with new and creative ideas. Cake decoration and ingredients are worth £162.5m, with Dr Oetker taking 25% share and own label taking 50% share.”

To ensure the home-baking category stays popular, suppliers have been working hard to create ranges that chime with today’s time-pressed consumers.

McKee acknowledges that time can become a barrier to baking more frequently, and as a response Dr Oetker has created products that appeal to those in a hurry. She explains: “Simple and easy options such as Easy Ice, Easy Choc and Flavour Drizzles are our newest additions, helping bakers to achieve results even as part of their busy lives. Our latest innovation is our range of drizzles in lemon, raspberry and caramel.

She points out that retailers need to keep an eye on any events taking place in their community which might trigger an increase in demand for home-baking items. “Baking is frequently driven by events or a specific occasion, and shoppers will do a top-up shop to get ingredients they’re missing. If consumers are purchasing flour or butter from a convenience store they can then be tempted into purchasing other decorations and home-baking products. For best results, merchandise alongside other sweet grocery categories and use bright, attractive POS material. We advise keeping clear indicators for home baking, such as decorations, at eye level, and flour and sugar lower down the fixture.”

Emma’s Milverton store does just that. “We merchandise everything together, from dried fruit, nuts, hundreds and thousands, icings and sugars, next to the flour range and the eggs. We have a few village fêtes and school fêtes and they often involve baking competitions. Because of this we put those dates in our calendar and merchandise for them, making sure that we stock up on bits that the entrants need.”

Julie Jones, who owns Morton Post Office and Stores in Bourne, Lincolnshire, says there are many big events in the calendar that provide her store with excellent sales opportunities when it comes to home baking.

She says: “We have just about a metre of home-baking products in the store and we do quite well from our range. We have a big baking competition in the village in August and the local community takes part in baking sweet and savoury goods for a judging panel. It’s a big community event and some of our customers enter and bake with ingredients they pick up from us.”

The growing popularity of baking TV programmes, such as BBC1’s The Great British Bake Off, which is set to return to screens on August 24, has increased consumer interest in baking from home. As presenters Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood inspire people to try their hand at baking, the show’s popularity is translating into a sales boost throughout the retail sector.

Premier Foods gets the Hollywood treatment

Premier Foods has entered an exclusive partnership with celebrity baker Paul Hollywood to launch a range of products designed to inspire people to try artisanal baking.

The 12-strong range includes savoury and bread mixes, comprising: Paul Hollywood white plaited loaf mix and barm cake roll mix (rrp £1.49); Paul Hollywood garlic and herb tear ‘n’ share mix; tomato and thyme bloomer mix; luxurious cheese and rosemary scone (rrp £2.09). The sweet mix range includes: luxurious Belgian chocolate brownie mix; bran and coconut flapjack mix; luxurious Belgian chocolate cookie mix; luxurious Belgian white choc cookie mix; luxurious Belgian chocolate muffin mix; luxurious Belgian white chocolate muffin mix; and famous scone mix (rrp £2.09).

“I’m passionate about inspiring more people to bake more adventurously,” says Hollywood. “Lots of people want to bake, but can be put off by the variety of ingredients and perceived difficulty of baking artisan-style treats at home. I’m delighted to say that we have created a range of mixes that are easy to use and will give people the confidence to start experimenting with hand-crafted, modern, rustic-style baking without the risk of failure and potential wastage.”

Julie’s store in Morton takes the TV show very seriously, identifying it as a great business opportunity. Says Julie: “We put up a table near the front of the store with Union Jack bunting around it and put a display on it with some of the key ingredients used on that night’s show or for the ‘Star Bake’ and inspire our customers to have a go at home. This works really well.”

Dr Oetker’s McKee also sees the TV show as a key sales opportunity. “As Bake Off has grown in viewing figures over the years, it has also become increasingly important for the home-baking category. Cake decorations and ingredients see a steady rise in sales throughout the 10-week period the show is on, peaking around the end of September. Overall, the category sees an 8% uplift compared with the previous period. Ingredients for scratch baking are must stocks, including baking aids, cooking chocolate and food flavourings.

To make the most of the surge in interest in all things baking, the company will be embarking on a marketing campaign during the run of the TV show, encouraging people not to worry about perfection and to just ‘dare to bake’, whatever their skills.

Tuned in

Manny says he has also seen the benefit of popular baking programmes returning to television. “We are aware of how it can pay off for retailers to stock up on home- baking products before the show starts and throughout the time the show runs. We will be promoting our great home-baking range in line with the show’s return and will probably use our shelf edges and do something promotional with them.

“I think since Bake Off, people want to bake cakes more and also want their bakes to stand out and look great, too. This has led to a boost in sales of decorative ingredients such as icings, toppings, decorative chocolates and hundreds and thousands. Retailers must stay tuned in to consumer trends, not just on television, but also in their local communities, to maximise sales through the many opportunities that arise.”