The Great Economic Bake Off?
'...there has been a worldwide revolution in baking shows'
Alice Hart | 7 March 2016

Admit it. Who doesn’t love The Bake Off? With its scrumptious cakes, incredible Britishness and a touch of humour, The Great British Bake Off is a highlight of many people’s Wednesday evenings. With 13.4 million viewers tuning in to the show for the 2015 final, the programme has since cooked up Comic and Sports Relief Bake Offs as well as shows all around the world. Surely, this Bake Off boom is having some effect on the economy?

One consequence is the immense increase in demand for food. Many have decided to don the apron and start baking, with 19% of people saying that they now bake at least once a week. Here’s some statistics to chew on: Waitrose has seen an increase of 33% in sales of their Home Baking Salted Caramel Flavouring (featured in Nadiya’s, a recent winner, recipe). Compared to the end of 2014, sales of almonds have increased by over 76% (yes, people bake with these) and food colouring and essence has risen by 25%.

The all-important baking gadgets and accessories, most noticeably the pastel-coloured Kenwood food mixers, have also experienced a rise in popularity, with a record £900m boom in the baking market last year. Interestingly, after The Bake Off switched from a KitchenAid mixer to a Kenwood one, the new brand benefited from an increase in popularity, with searches for its products up 12% from the year before. Meanwhile, interest in KitchenAid fell by 14%. The site ‘AppliancesDirect.co.uk’ reported that the sales of ovens, hobs, fridge-freezers, and stand mixers used by the contestants soared during the 2015 season. ‘Notonthehighstreet.com’ also saw a 141% increase in bakeware sales during the 2014 series, with sales of kitchen appliances up by 87% and chopping boards by 83%.

The Bake Off has also caused the rise of the cake-trepreneur: since the series first aired in 2010, there has been a 51% increase in the number of baking businesses operating in the UK. In Newport, Wales, the figure shows that 85% of the city’s bakeries were set-up after the show started. The Bake Off has therefore provided an income for many families and without it, we may not have the amount of choice of bakeries on the street as we see today. The extra competition within the bakery market will undoubtedly increase the standard of baking and lower prices - meaning more affordable and delicious cakes - as the bakeries are forced to do so, in order to stay in business.

The Bake Off itself has expanded rapidly. On top of the spin-off show An Extra Slice and a kids’ Bake Off, there has been a worldwide revolution in baking shows - the format has been sold to more than 20 countries. Aside from the French and Italians, Scandinavia, Thailand, Turkey and Brazil have all adopted their own versions of the show. The Bake Off has contributed massively to certain sectors of the global economy. Incomes are being generated from filming and producing the show, by contestants using it to launch a baking career and even global baking industry sales themselves are flourishing.

Charities, especially Comic Relief and Sports Relief, have also benefitted from the show through the raising of lots of extra money. According to the Charity Aid Foundation (CAF), The Great British Bake Off has encouraged nearly six million to take part in charity bake sales - the show is inspiring more people to inject some fun into their fundraising. The Bake Off also, markedly, contributed to the incredible £95,059,764 raised last year on Red Nose Day.

Furthermore, the baking book and magazine market has experienced change since The Bake Off, as the show encourages people to try these recipes at home. Christmas 2013 saw Jamie Oliver, the once king of celebrity chefs, being knocked off his throne, and sales of Great British Bake Off Everyday and Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds becoming Tesco bestsellers. Paul Hollywood’s Bread also topped the charts when published, with 121,000 copies sold. Baking magazines, too, have proliferated since 2010, with the major titles experiencing a significant uptick in sales and subscribers.

So where next?

There is a clear increase in public demand for The Bake Off format. In economic terms it would make sense for the show to supply more – and it is. With the next series due to start soon, and BBC unveiling plans for a ‘professional’ version hosted by Tom Kerridge, there seems to be no stop to The Bake Off and its impact on the economy.

 

Original image by Elizabeth Timoshchenko

James Routledge 2016