Unique flavours and its biggest ever range have helped Waitrose achieve a 40% sales increase in hot cross buns compared to last year.

Despite Easter occurring three weeks later than in 2018, the supermarket said that shoppers were enjoying the wide range of flavour combinations of the classic treat.

In addition to the increase in sales, searches for ‘hot cross buns’ on its website were up more than 11% compared to the same week last year.

The retailer is this year selling 13 different types of bun, having introduced new flavours and formats.

The line-up includes the new Waitrose 1 Elderflower, Lemon and Lovage Hot Cross Buns, which are made using a bespoke sourdough, soaked fruit and double cream with elderflower extract, lemon zest and lovage.

The retailer has also launched a Waitrose 1 Orange, Cranberry & Jasmine Hot Cross Buns, made with the same sourdough recipe with the addition of dried cranberries, orange peel and an infusion of jasmine green tea. 

Both are finished with a hand-applied cross and are available in stores and online (rsp £1.89/two-pack).

“We know how much our customers love hot cross buns, so we’ve introduced even more delicious flavour combinations, including unexpected ingredients like lovage – an aromatic herb with hints of lemon and anise. There’s nothing more delicious than a toasted bun, smothered in butter with a cup to tea,” said Stuart Owens, partner and product developer at Waitrose & Partners.

See next month’s British Baker magazine for a feature on hot cross bun NPD.