Baking at home is continuing to remain a favourite with Irish consumers, according to a new Bord Bia study.
It has five core ingredients from three key agri-food sectors, dairy, tillage and poultry, and is worth an estimated €119m a year to the national economy.
Flour, eggs, butter, margarine/sugar and milk are skilfully combined to create wholesome home-baked food, a skill embedded in Ireland’s folklore.
But the market has experienced a year-on-year decline of 2.2% — which is attributed to shoppers making fewer trips to the store and buying less volume on each occasion.
Submarkets including those catering for icing, white sugar and savoury are in decline. However, sub-categories such as brown sugar, snacking fruit, cherries, and peel are growing.
Private label is also tending to show growth while branded products are taking the impact of the decline.
In order to assess the growth potential of the home-baking sector, the Bord Bia research project, had two key objectives.
One has to understand the consumer mindset to unlock the potential for continued success in the category. And the other aim was to identify opportunities and areas of innovation to Irish manufacturer.
Paula Donoghue, consumer insight manager, Bord Bia said in 100 years, we’ve gone from a situation where home baking was routine, necessary and laborious to something that is seen as exciting, gratifying and enjoyable.
“It is encouraging to see that baking continues to be a key part of Irish households and an important way to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas,” she said.
While traditional desserts, such as shortbread and eclairs, are making a comeback among Irish bakers, the report highlighted an interest in moving towards healthier baking, although behaviour isn’t mirroring that yet.
“Despite healthy eating remaining one of people’s main priorities for Ireland’s bakers, home baking boils down to simple sweet treats (cakes, buns and bread) that focus on taste and moments of indulgence with family and friends,” she said.
The research highlights that four in five Irish home bakers are female (82%) with 53% baking at least once a week and 30% monthly. Incidences of home-baking increases nearing the weekend, peaking on Saturday afternoon.
A total of 65% of those surveyed bake alone, while 14% like to bake with their kids, 76% bake for immediate family with only 5% baking for work colleagues.
Providing home baked goods for family (60%), just for fun (55%) and seasonal occasions such as Christmas, Easter and birthdays (41%) were given as key reasons for baking.
Baking is deemed to required a high skill level, with only 1 in 8 (13%) considering themselves highly competent.
Some 41% admit to having a limited skill set but enjoy baking from recipes they know and trust Additional barriers include concerns around food waste, lack of utensils and the cost of ingredients.
Despite changing tastes, core baking ingredients have remained the same for decades - flour, eggs, margarine/butter, sugar and milk.
The top three barriers to baking were deemed to be a fear of making a mess (32%), the time it takes (29%) and health concerns (29%). Some 45% of Irish home bakers prefer to make sweet things, compared to 21% regularly opting for savoury.
Although eight in 10 people report that they bake from scratch, the use of pre-mixes is also common, particularly in households with children. The use of pre-mixes may go unreported as it is regarded as cheating by some consumers.
Premixes are also considered to have a number of benefits including a good way to introduce children to baking (66%), convenience and time saving (61%) and mess reduction (54%).
Taste is the most important factor for everyday family baking. However, presentation is key for special occasions and treats to be shared outside of the home.
Online is now the greatest source of inspiration for home-baking (37%), followed by reliable cook books (19%).
But 14% still follow recipes that have been passed down through the generations from grannies to daughters and grand-children.
While TV chefs contnue to have a following, online bloggers and social media stars are now amongst the most popular.
Bloggers with a healthy eating focus are increasingly popular and the best-selling cookbooks in Ireland of recent years also have health as their premise.
The purpose of the home baking research was to identify and understand macro trends that impact upon consumer behaviour in the category.
Bord Bia works with home baking manufacturers to use the research findings to help with future innovation, branding and marketing opportunities.
The home baking study incorporated both quantitative and qualitative methodology, including an online survey of 400 bakers (who baked at least once in the last year), home diaries and consumer focus groups.
MCCP was the research partner and the fieldwork was completed between March and April this year.
Bord Bia’s Insight Team is a source of consumer and market insight for Irish food and drink companies, allowing them access to global intelligence and specialist category knowledge which are key to commercial success.
It will officially open its new insight centre, The Thinking House, in September.
Located at the organisation’s Dublin offices, it is designed to help and encourage companies to ensure the consumer is at the heart of everything they do.
Home baking brings out many emotions in people including happiness and joy, but also anxiety, as can be gleaned from a few lines of endearng dialogue from the UK writer, Hilary McKay.
“I always say a little prayer when I put cakes in the oven, remarked Eve, as she stopped to kiss Rose goodbye. What do you say? I say, ‘Please, God, don’t let me forget I’ve put that cake in the oven.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved