Bake It Till You Make It: Baking Becomes A Popular Canadian Pastime During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Bake It Till You Make It: Baking Becomes A Popular Canadian Pastime During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Amid government-mandated social distancing and shelter-in-place policies across Canada, baking has become a popular pastime for consumers looking for an alternative to streaming video programs or playing video games.

That’s not to say, however, that they’re not thinking about what’s going on outside their homes. With all of the provinces under lockdown orders, Canadians have spoken: nine out of 10 Canadians are concerned about COVID-19, while 79% expect the spread of COVID-19 to increase. But as we’ve seen elsewhere around the globe, the lockdowns in Canada have inspired an array of creativity in the kitchen as consumers look for ways to keep entertained while staying at home. To that effect, sales in the baking aisle surged, growing 26% in the year-to-date period ended April 4, which translates to $88 million more than the same time period last year. The growth rate is also a whopping 7 times higher than the sales growth of the baking category through the 2019 calendar year.

Baking Department Dollar Sales

Say Yes to the yeast

As consumers shifted from pantry stocking to growing comfortable with their restricted living situations, the composition of their shopping baskets (physical and virtual) has shifted as well. While shoppers frantically stocked up on toilet paper, sanitizers and cleaning supplies at the onset of the pandemic, shelter-in-place lifestyles have pressured supply chains across other categories, some of which are directly correlated with an increase in in-home cooking and baking. Reportedly, 40% of Canadians say they are cooking more at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Yeast is now a hot commodity, and is even hard to come by in many markets. Comparatively, yeast sales were trending downward before the outbreak, posting a decline of 6% for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 4, 2019. With consumers now spending more time in the kitchen, fresh, homemade bread is experiencing a big revival, leading to an unprecedented dollar sales growth of 88% in the category in the 13 weeks ended April 4.

With consumers across Canada and elsewhere around the globe expecting to remain at home in the short term, manufacturers and retailers can help by proactively providing them with inspiration and recipe ideas to make their stay-at-home situations more enjoyable. On the other hand, understanding how grocery shopping transforms as consumers move through the behavioural threshold model will help ensure that shelves are well-stocked with what consumers consider essential at a particular point in time.

Baking Department Contributors to Growth

Canadian baking ingenuity doesn’t stop at yeast, however. Sourdough baking challenges have cropped up recently across the internet, catching fire among homebound consumers. Recipes that suggest a simple fermentation process of flour and water can lead to an Instagram-worthy homemade loaf without the use of yeast.

As the current state of affairs may call for a focus on an assortment of staples, keeping the baking aisle stocked is a way for FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) companies to become Canadians’ ally in the kitchen and may help ease up consumers’ daily stressors in the short term.


The insights in this article were derived from the following sources:

  • Nielsen MarketTrack
  • An ongoing global study and reflect just one aspect of a broader number of themes (e.g., online-offline shopping, travel, and holidays plans, etc.) covered in the research. Nielsen’s Impact of COVID-19 on Consumer Behaviour survey was conducted in March 2020, in 70+ markets including Canada and the United States. Given the dynamic changes that have occurred globally due to COVID-19, it’s imperative to understand how changes in behaviour can create new opportunities for companies of all sizes.