Great British Bake Off

Cherries? Icing sugar? UK retailers race to predict Bake Off’s latest hit ingredient

As UK TV viewers look forward to 12 bakers battling it out, retailers are busy guessing what products will be flying off the shelves ahead of the latest series of the massively popular reality cooking show, The Great British Bake Off, that starts tomorrow.

“My friends are very jealous as I will get to watch TV and eat a lot of cake,” says Anastasia Duncanson when asked about her new job.

Ahead of the hotly anticipated seventh series of The Great British Bake Off, which starts on 24 August, the 30-year-old groceries buyer has just been appointed by Morrisons as the UK’s first dedicated “bake officer”.

She has been charged with making sure that the retailer’s 492 stores are fully stocked with baking essentials such as flour, icing sugar, yeast, vanilla extract and chocolate chips, and that the stores are also on emergency standby to supply any unexpected or unlikely ingredients that appear on the show.

Last year they included crystallised ginger and goldenberries, a sweet and tangy superfruit originally from Peru.

Such is the power of the “Bake Off effect” over sales that the UK’s supermarkets and retailers are this year sparing no expense in making sure they are fully geared up to meet demand as the new series kicks off.

Though not all will have created new jobs based on anticipated GBBO sales, all the major UK supermarkets and cookware retailers have bolstered their buying teams. And from behind the scenes they will be closely monitoring the 12 contestants’ artistry on social media (most contestants have their own websites and Instagram accounts) once their creations have been aired on TV.

The programme, now one of the most popular in the UK, has sparked a boom in the art of home baking and a nationwide consumer fascination with soggy bottoms and fancy biscuits.

“The Great British Bake Off  is now the third most important event in the nation’s home-baking calendar, beaten only by Christmas and Easter,” says Tim Shaw, baking buyer at Waitrose.

“While we can predict the increase in sales of regular baking products, the show always throws a curveball, with a contestant using a relatively niche ingredient – such as the goldenberries which appeared in the last series.

“That ingredient will then fly off the shelves, so I will be glued to each episode again, anticipating what that product will be.”

Last summer, Waitrose reported a 180% sales spike in goldenberries and, after the biscuit episode – which saw all the contestants rustle up 24 biscotti biscuits, puff-pastry arlettes, and an edible biscuit box – sales of ground almonds at Waitrose alone shot up by 161%, flaked almonds by 103% and crystallised ginger by an amazing 315%…..

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