The nation wide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 might have halted several commercial activities but have boosted certain others. The sale of bakeware has hit a new high during the period in cities such as Ahmedabad and Vadodara, with several retail players running out of stock. There is also a surge in demand for baking ingredients such as refined flour, flavouring agents and chocolate, according to retailers.
“Due to lockdown, people have more time to spend at home and most of them are fond of food. They used to get bakery items from commercial units but now they are worried about safety and hence have started making them at home,” said Tapan Shah, owner of RB Shah Enterprises, which deals with branded kitchenware in Ahmedabad.
“There has been a surge in the demand of various bakeware items such as bread loaf pan, cake mould, muffin mould, pizza pan, baking mould and even barbecue skewers. In fact, we are out of stock of most of these items and continue to get more demand,” added Shah.
Another retail player of kitchenware items in Ahmedabad, Akbarali & Sons, echoes his opinion. Saifee Akbarali Ghasletwala, owner of the firm, said, “Yes, there is a huge demand for bakewares People do not trust commercial baked products due to health and hygiene issues. So, they prefer to make them at home…”
Pointing out the demand, Ghasletwala says, “We are almost out of bakeware stock. We used to get the stock from Mumbai and China but that has stopped now. May be, after the lockdown, we may start getting stock from local manufacturers.”
According to the retailers, there is similar demand for baking ingredients as well. Specialty baking stores and provision stores say that the demand for refined flour, flavouring agents and chocolate has increased. In Vadodara, stores are nearly out of stock of essential baking items.
Rajni Tanwani, who runs the Deomal Specialty baking and general store at Genda Circle in Vadodara said that in two months of lockdown, they exhausted their stock of about 50,000 vanilla essence bottles that was meant to last the entire year.
“There was phenomenal demand in the past two months for flour, baking agents, moulds, yeast, essences, chocolate and so on. At the moment, in Vadodara, vanilla essence is not available anywhere. There is no stock of chocolate chips and cocoa powder as well. The prices of refined flour have gone up by Rs 5 per 500 grams due to the increased demand. We sold out our entire year’s stock of vanilla essence that we purchased in March, just before the lockdown, that was meant to last till March 2021,” says Tanwani, who runs multiple outlets in the city.
The sale of over-the-counter (OTC) antacid powders has also gone up significantly in Vadodara that medical stores are facing trouble with stocking up the same as people are using the powder to bake cakes.
“Almost every shop in the city has run out of antacid powders of various brands because people are using the powder to bake cakes. While baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, branded antacid powders like Eno or Gasofast also contain citric acid and salt in addition to baking soda. The number of people asking for these products has tremendously increased since the beginning of April. The stock should have last at least until July in regular time. We procured a second round of stock from pharma companies in the beginning of May,” says a chemist in Manjalpur area of Vadodara, choosing anonymity.
“Many of the chemists now ask people if they really need it for heartburn… In our shop, we offer substitutes for acidity first to see if they genuinely need it for relief or whether it is a luxury purchase. Since it’s an OTC product we cannot deny sale,” the chemist adds.
Ruchi Aggarwala, a professional home baker from Ahmedabad, who provides home-baked cakes under the brand name Baked Connect, says, “Everybody has started baking at home for sure. People have started trying things by reading on internet. They don’t get it from bakery or commercial set up.” Aggarwala who resumed professional work after around two-and-a-half months, says the number of orders has gone down compared to what she used to get.
Darshana Khoda, a homemaker from Ahmedabad said, “Yes, ever since the lockdown started owing to COVID-19, I have stopped buying bakery items from commercial shops. I used to bake at home occasionally. But, after this lockdown, we have made it a point not to buy any bakery item from commercial outlets. I am scared for the health of my family as we never know what kind of health and hygiene standards the commercial people maintain.”
She added, “A lot of women in my circle have started baking at home. As kids demand various foot items like pizza, cake, vada-pav, bhaji-pav, dabeli etc. and for that one needs to bake at home,” she added.
Hetal Vaghela another homemaker from Ahmedabad said, “I was not baking at home and we used to get all our bakery items from the market. But, after this lockdown and COVID-19 scare, I am very careful about what we buy from market. And buying bakery products from market is a big no. With the help of one of my friends and internet, I started learning home baking. And now, I can easily bake breads, buns, cake etc..”
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