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Home baking continues to rise

Home baking escalated during the pandemic, and it continues to be on the rise.

From renovation projects to gardening, the coronavirus lockdown sent many consumers looking for new at-home hobbies, and baking was one trend that took kitchens by storm. Whether to produce home-baked goods or provide a source of comfort during a stressful time, consumers rolled up their sleeves and started kneading dough.

And sales of baking products backed the trend. In its Home Baking: US Market Trends and Opportunities report, Packaged Facts found that sales of baking-related products increased by 24% in 2020, to $26.5 billion—a big jump from 2016 to 2019’s modest sales growth.

“Sales are expected to continue rising in 2021 as consumers continue to work from home or spend more leisure time at home,” Jennifer Mapes-Christ, food and beverage publisher for Packaged Facts, said. “Comfort and wellness trends that have a positive effect on baking activity are also expected to continue in 2021.”

In addition, Packaged Facts’ late 2020 national online consumer survey found 84% of respondents reported some frequency of home baking, with 45% baking at least once or twice a month.

As the baking-at-home trend continues, the State Fair of Virginia offers an opportunity for home cooks to show off their culinary creations. Now is the time to start thinking about entering one of the fair’s culinary contests and to start practicing those baked goods.

Competition is expected to be stiff.

“Everyone’s pretty much spent the last year and a half in their kitchen,” Marlene Jolliffe, the State Fair’s executive director, said. “We anticipate strong interest.”

There will be culinary arts competitions for both youth and adult home bakers, and categories will include cakes, cookies, pies, quick breads and decorated novelty cakes.

Contest rules and guidelines are still in the works, but Jolliffe said they will be published soon.

“We are planning for a 2021 event and encourage interested folks to visit the State Fair website for more information in mid-to-late May,” she said.

In addition to the culinary contests, the fair will include more cooking demonstrations.

“We certainly feel that people are very interested in cooking and have done a lot of it since everyone couldn’t eat out,” Jolliffe explained. “Cooking is entertainment, and we want to present culinary arts through additional demonstrations.”