There are signs Britain’s home baking boom may be running out of steam, just as Channel 4 prepares to relaunch one of its main catalysts, The Great British Bake Off.
The amount of baking ingredients, including flour, dried fruits and cake coverings, sold by supermarkets fell 3.8% in the year to the end of March, according to analysts at Kantar Worldpanel.
Every series of the Bake Off so far has spurred a peak in baking activity, with supermarkets racing to ensure they have supplies of key ingredients used in the show when it aired on the BBC. But these peaks have gradually diminished over the past four years. Activity in between the shows reached a new low last summer.
Bakery kits, dried fruit and bread mixes have been hit the hardest, according to research from IRI, the grocery market analysis firm. It recorded declines at all the major brands, including Jus-Rol, Silver Spoon, Homepride, Allinson and McDougalls. Only Dr Oetker, the German maker of icing, sprinkles, flavourings and other baking ingredients, increased sales volumes.
Thomas Steel, an analyst at Kantar, told the Grocer trade journal that consumers are purchasing both less per trip and not as often: “Home baking across all retailers has seen brands being ousted by own-label ranges.”
Channel 4 is expected to relaunch the Bake Off show, which it controversially poached from the BBC, in September with only Paul Hollywood staying on from the original presenting and judging team. The new line up includes Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.
But it is not clear whether the new look Bake Off will be able to maintain the popularity of the BBC version which secured 14.8m viewers for the series finale, half the viewing public, making it the most watched final ever.
Series three winner John Whaite told the Grocer that Britain’s home baking boom since the show first aired in 2010 was largely down to the influence of one key presenter who will not be part of the Channel 4 version – Mary Berry. “Mary’s really soft approach and the way she gives honest but gentle criticism really emboldens people and encourages them to give it a go,” he said.
Even before Channel 4 bought the format, sales of baking ingredients had begun to fall back from a peak in 2014, according to IRI.
Maureen Hinton, group research director at retail consultancy GlobalData, said that the trend was likely to continue unless Channel 4 was able to come up with “something very different that inspires people’s interest”.
As budgets are squeezed by rising inflation, which is reducing families’ spending power, Hinton said cooking main meals from scratch might rise but baking was a “niche activity”.
“It’s more of a leisure activity. You can buy cakes more cheaply and its not just buying flour and eggs, you have to turn your oven on and pay for that as well,” she said.
Baking ingredients brands are hoping the switch to Channel 4 might provide them with new opportunities to bolster sales, however, as they will be able to advertise alongside the programme for the first time.
Channel 4 is in talks with advertisers to secure at least £25m a year from a range of commercial deals to cover the cost of taking the biggest show on British TV from the BBC.