As consumers are spending more time at home during this time of social distancing, many are looking to the comforts of the kitchen to provide some normalcy. Others are delving into home cooking and baking projects that they never felt they had the time for before now. However, none have become more popular than baking bread. Yeast and flour have been in short supply around the country, while social media pages have been inundated with photos of homemade baguettes, sourdoughs and challahs.
“As options for freshly baked bread has lessened, consumers have engaged in baking bread and many other sweet and savory treats. We believe that as consumers’ lifestyles have shifted, it has presented them with an opportunity to engage/re-engage with home cooking and baking. We also feel that it makes consumers feel good about preparing homemade bread for their families,” said Steve Campise, kitchenware division president, Lifetime Brands.
In turn, the trend has helped grow the cookware and bakeware products that allow these consumers to achieve their ideal baked product, according to vendors.
Tara Steffen, vp/marketing, Emile Henry USA, has seen a rise in sales of the company’s 4.2-quart ceramic Dutch oven, which was what Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe uses, as well as its bread cloches. John White, business director of Robinson Home Products, noted that he seen a bump in non-stick carbon steel loaf pans because of the demand for home-baked bread. Bradshaw Home’s Keri Anderson, senior product manager of bakeware, said not only are more traditional loaf pans gaining traction in the market, but complementary products that touch the bread category, like pizza pans and cake pans for pizza crusts and dinner rolls, are also in-demand.
The growth, Steffen explained, is due to the fact that many consumers are opting to use traditional cookware and bakeware for baking bread than turning to machines. She noted that since people have more time, they want to be fully engaged throughout the bread baking process, from kneading to observing the way the bread rises.
“Baking bread in a pan is more involved and more satisfying than baking in a machine. A baker can see and smell the bread rising and then baking in the oven. It is part of the bread making process to watch and anticipate the forthcoming bread. The process of baking bread in the oven in pans is more hands-on. The results are different, too,” she said.
John Bundy, director, USA Pan, explained that the company has seen growth across all of its bakeware lines, but particularly bread-based products. He believes that consumers are enjoying the hands-on factor when making bread, while using more traditional methods allows for versatility in more than one way.
“When using a bread machine, loaves will typically be more rounded than having straight tight corners that are achieved in a pan. It’s easier to deviate from instructions and take liberties with ingredients when using a pan. Also, multiple recipes can be tried at the same time when using multiple pans,” he said.
Bradshaw’s Anderson noted that traditional cookware and bakeware pieces are more affordable than bread-making machines, allowing consumers that may be financially compromised by the pandemic a way to still bake bread at home without a hefty investment.
While social distancing and stay-at-home-orders have been the reason behind the bread boom, vendors are confident that this trend will stick when the pandemic is over, especially now that many home cooks and bakers are less intimidated by the process.
“We believe the current trend may slow slightly, but consumers are gaining greater comfort and confidence with more frequent practice. Whether a beginner baker or seasoned baking professional, many have engaged in the art of home baking and are providing high quality results for their family members to enjoy,” Lifetime’s Campise said.
Added Steffen, “Our new bread baking customers have said they have always wanted to try bread baking but didn’t have the time or the patience or the know-how. Now that they have jumped in and have become bread bakers, we think they will continue baking bread. They might not bake as often but they now know the joy of creating homemade bread.”
For more on bread baking, see the May 18, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.