An article in ‘The Mail on Sunday’ on Easter Sunday described the growing home baking phenomenon and asked: “Is the cupcake taking us out of recession?” This question, to me, is quite valid, says Bill Brown.
For while the huge interest in baking, on its own, will not rejuvenate this country’s fortunes, the attitude behind it could.
Whilst there’s been an upsurge in baking at home, there’s also been an upsurge in the number of new small businesses growing on the back of this boom. Many new tea rooms and bakery businesses have opened up. They are riding the wave of this business opportunity.
Existing businesses are also benefiting. ‘The Mail on Sunday’ tells us how retailers like John Lewis and Lakeland are taking full advantage of this interest in home baking.
Independent retailers are ideally placed in this situation. Many people, new to home baking, need advice on what kit to buy – and how best to use it. Who is most able to provide this valuable information to customers than independent cookshops? With their hands-on operations and deep product knowledge, there are no retailers better placed to help the novice baker more effectively – and, at the same time, to promote their business.
I don’t think this baking boom is just a flash in the pan, or a passing fad. What’s happening now is a ‘perfect storm’ of events, that is encouraging a movement towards homely pursuits.
Look around you: you will see a recession, and you will see people who have lost trust in large food retailers to provide them with wholesome products. The recent horse meat and food contamination scandals have put paid to grocery multiples’ monopolies. There is a growing farmers’ market movement, and people are returning to their local butchers in droves.
Doing more for ourselves at home – as far as baking and cooking is concerned – has been happening for several years now. It used to be called the ‘Delia effect’. But the baton has now been passed on to other cooks and also to the bakers… Fine, so let’s make the most of it. All these conditions are coming together to create great prospects for new business start-ups – as well as existing retailers, looking to make the most of the opportunity.
And it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Retailers have to make the most of what comes their way. Other opportunities will no doubt come along in the future – and you have to be ready for them. So keep an open mind and scan the competitive and consumer scene. Then you will be able to recognise trends and passions as early as possible. And when you do – seize the day!