James Beard called bread “the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods” and it seems today’s consumers agree, propelling sales of breadmakers to new heights. Indeed, sales of kitchen appliances have surged in recent weeks, as the COVID-19 health crisis and stay-at-home mandates fueled a renewed interest in home cooking, especially appliances suited to making comfort cuisine— sandwich makers, slow/multi-cookers, air fryers, convection/toaster ovens— as well as appliances used for fun foods, including popcorn makers, indoor grills and treat makers.
Breadmaker sales blasted to new heights, registering a whopping 642% increase in the three-week period ending April 4 compared to the same period last year, according to the NPD Group. “There is an emotional connection to bread,” noted Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor, NPD.
“For some areas, purchasing bread has been a challenge for consumers so they’ve looked for an easy way to create their own right at home,” said Mary Rodgers, Cuisinart director of marketing communications. “Breadmakers eliminate a lot of the variables that make it difficult for consumers to create perfect results, and they get the added benefit of the amazing aroma of fresh-baked bread.” Cuisinart also has seen increases in air fryers, coffeemakers, waffle makers and ice cream makers.
Zojirushi sales have jumped on breadmakers and rice cookers. “Consumers are cooking at home more often, and see the benefits, such as health, taste and cost, of cooking and eating at home,” said Marilyn Matsuba, marketing manager, Zojirushi USA.
Sandy Liu, chief operating officer, Maxi-Matic, pointed to breadmakers, food sealers, electric skillets, portable burners, citrus juicers, electric kettles and toasters as hot sellers. “During the 2008 economic crisis we experienced a similar uptick in sales as consumers were staying home more and dining out less,” she explained. “At that time, consumers weren’t so much worried about availability of food but affording the food available. Now they’re worried about both.”
Multi-purpose and large-capacity appliances are flourishing, suppliers said.
“Multi-function air fryer/ovens are performing quite well; larger capacity air fryers remain strong,” said Keith Hamden, svp/sales, Nuwave. “We do expect this trend to continue. Even when the shelter-in-place orders are lifted, many people may not have a total comfort with whatever social-distancing measures are in place. In addition, the economic impact to some families may preclude them from dining out as often as they have in the past.”
Multicookers, pressure cookers, home canning equipment and induction cooktops are performing for Zavor, said Sara de la Hera, vp/sales and marketing for the company.
“Consumers are at home cooking more meals and all these products contribute to making that task easier while they try to multitask and work remotely, home-school their children, and be in touch with family and friends during this challenging time,” she said. “Interest continues to grow on multi-purpose units that can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sauté and sous vide. Even though canning season has not started yet, we see sales for the Duo 10-piece pressure cooking canning set and home canning kit grow daily. Since most of us are at home and cooking more often our habits are moving towards preserving and we expect this trend to continue in the next several months.”
Eric Endres, vp/marketing, Select Brands, said, “There is no doubt that when stay-at-home orders are lifted that a return to normal does not mean the same old normal. A great deal of change is going to come out of the pandemic. Adversity and challenging times cause priorities to shift. Families have engaged more around the kitchen table and that time together is valued. At-home meals may also prove to be kinder to the budget.”
For more on kitchen electric sales, see the May 4, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.