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Baking up a storm: how New Zealanders rediscovered their love of baking during COVID-19

Baking aisles in supermarkets across New Zealand have gone from a Sunset category to a Rockstar category overnight as COVID-19 created an army of new bakers around the country. Pre-COVID, baking was simply entertainment we watched on TV. It was only when the threat of a new virus hit, and other countries went into lockdown that the category started to breathe new life.

Pre-lockdown saw baking essential such as flour and yeast fly off shelves as Kiwis put their learnings from watching MasterChef into action. And the extent to which New Zealanders embraced this new found love of baking was nothing but extraordinary with households purchasing enough yeast pre-lockdown to make 710,000 loaves of bread –an increase of 241% compared to the same time as last year. 

For George Lim, Category Manager at Foodstuffs North Island, dealing with exponential growth during lockdown was no small feat. 

Over the past eight weeks, Foodstuffs North Island stores have sold 3.2 million kilos of flour up an additional 1.4 million kilos compared to the previous year. Our suppliers have had to increase operations three-fold compared to normal period – with current demand yet to show any sign of slowing down” says Lim.

Scratch cooking was not the only thing making a comeback during lockdown. Customers were eager to get their hands on pre-made baking mixes for breakfasts, birthdays or afternoon tea. “Our Edmonds pancake mixes flew off the shelves during lockdown, easily taking out the top spot of ‘most popular mix’ sold. It seems New Zealanders missed going out for brunch and decided to recreate their favourite foods at home."

I am no baker but even I joined the rest of NZ in stocking up on flour during lockdown. Despite not getting in on the lockdown trends of banana bread and sour dough, I did manage a batch of cookies and some pancakes for breakfast,” says Lim.

Post-lockdown we are anticipating people to bake more as many have uncovered a hidden talent for cooking great food at home. We are expecting up to 30% of people to continue baking and predictions are healthier baking trends are on the rise. Homemade baking with a focus on paleo, sugar free and gluten free products were key trends during lockdown and we are envisaging these trends will continue,” adds Lim.

Over the past eight weeks our supply chain has come together to ensure product is on shelves during COVID-19. Whether its my direct team, our suppliers, the supply chain, DC, transport or our stores, I want to recognise the tremendous effort and lengths everyone has gone to during these unprecedented times,” concludes Lim.