CAKES MINTEL

From the moment Carrie Bradshaw and co stepped into the 1950s-styled Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan and ordered a cupcake in Sex and the City in 2000, the trend for fashionable and artisan cakes became a phenomenon.

The UK cakes market has since been keen to capitalise on this renewed interest, with supermarket multiples and retailers including M&S following in the footsteps of specialist cake shops such as Konditor & Cook, Crumbs and Doilies and Choccywoccydoodah in launching more premium ranges of cupcakes, whoopie pies and macaroons (Maison Blanc’s macaroons range is now available at Waitrose stores). Harrods, Selfridge’s and Topshop are all literally mixing fashion and fashionable cakes, playing host to cake counters in-store through the Lola’s bakery chain.

Helping to drive the home-baking trend and posing a challenge to the take-home cake sector is The Hummingbird Bakery, whose Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook’s bestseller has sold over 300,000 copies in the UK, which founder Tarek Malouf proclaims cements cupcakes’ role in British culture.

Its latest publication The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days: Recipes to Make Every Day Special pushes the cake occasion even further, including a host of favourite recipes and new additions such as Earl Grey cupcakes and Lemonade cupcakes. Such recipes could provide inspiration for the wider cake market and encourage a burgeoning trend for matching cakes with what people are drinking.

With just less than a quarter (23%) of consumers agreeing that they would like to see more cakes/cake bars with premium ingredients eg superfruits, this indicates that artisan cakes and bakeries have raised consumer awareness and expectations. Brands and own-label retailers need to react and improve the quality, appearance and packaging of cakes (particularly when targeting the female consumer) and take inspiration from artisan cakes and chocolate products by introducing more exotic ingredients such as chilli, lavender, etc.

Those people who lack the time, skill or inclination to bake (36% disagree that they prefer to make cakes from scratch) fear not, as the Hummingbird chain has just opened its fourth branch in the aptly named Frying Pan Alley in East London and earmarked further sites outside London for 2012.

For more information on the effect of artisan trends on the cake market, have a look at Mintel’s Cakes and Cake Bars – UK 2011 report.

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