The View from Bord Bia: The final episode of the Great Irish Bake Off aired on TV last week, achieving an average reach of 450,000 viewers per week and with 12 amateur bakers competing through a feast of baking challenges culminating with the crowning of Ireland’s Best Amateur Baker.

The renaissance in home cooking and baking has been fuelled by the popularity of cooking and lifestyle TV shows, in addition to an ever increasing online reference base for recipes and the growing consumer trends of increased engagement with cooking and cooking from scratch.

Bord Bia’s PeriScope 2013 Irish and British Consumers highlights an opportunity for food companies to foster new experiences and offer products that encourage consumers to bake, as 55 per cent of respondents in Ireland have never baked from scratch.

Consumers are increasingly interested in cooking and enhancing their culinary skills, with 17 per cent of respondents cooking from scratch more often and 12 per cent having attended a cooking class in the past three years.

The category offers the potential for innovative and new products that enhance the fun and passion element of home cooking, including cake, bread and cookie mixes and cake kits that feature core ingredients and step-by-step recipe guides.

According to Bord Bia’s Tomorrow's Shopper research, there are opportunities for food companies to use social media channels to connect with consumers via mobile devices, applications and social networks to build brand loyalty and strengthen brand engagement.

The home baking sector has grown in popularity and diversity in recent years.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, data for the week 30 September 2013, an increase of over 30 per cent for baking toppings and eight per cent for sweet baking mixes was recorded. With Christmas approaching, current trends suggest that growth in home baking will continue, with increased pre-festive sales of baking ingredients such as flour, dried fruits and nuts, sugar and pre-made icing and marzipan.

By Linda Cullen, Food and Beverage Division, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board