With National Cupcake Week now set for September 14-19, suppliers are already beginning to capitalise on the boom in cupcake sales, as the cupcake craze sweeps the nation. It’s a trend that’s set to continue, with market figures on the up.

"As the demand for kitsch, retro treats continues to grow, the cupcake market is demonstrating a continual rise in sales figures year-on-year - a trend that is set to soar even further in 2009," predicts Lisa Boswell, marketing manager at BakeMark UK. "Increased household penetration has meant that sales in the last two years have rocketed."

Boswell encourages bakers to try out the newly launched BakeMark Extra Moist Toffee Cake Mix, which joins the Plain and Chocolate Extra Moist Cake Mixes from Craigmillar, to broaden their cupcake range. "The distinct growth in the cupcake market means a key focus within new product development is on offering a greater variety of choice within the sector," she says.

Ingredients supplier Ingrams, which specialises in fudges, is offering Richmeadow and Madison Fudgices in chocolate and caramel, in addition to a wide range of flavours, such as strawberry and peppermint. The Fudgices can be warmed and flooded or beaten with or without buttercream, and piped to produce a high definition icing; it is also freeze-thaw stable. Ingrams also offers a dedicated cupcake icing for flooding, which is available in either ready-to-use or concentrated formats.

The addition of Ingrams’ Choc Fudge Base allows the creation of American-style choc icings; simply add the base to buttercream or fondant to produce the icing, again freeze-thaw stable. It has also developed a new range of freeze-thaw stable dusting sugars, to enhance the texture and mouth feel of cupcakes.

"Icing is so subjective," says MD Mark Young. "Tesco is offering a firm set icing cupcake alongside a piped icing cupcake, so it’s about offering customers a choice. Cupcakes are embryonic in the market and the way it develops will depend on the baker’s flair."

Alternatively, if you’re after finished goods, Delice de France has launched a thaw-and-serve range called Loves Cupcakes, which are free from artificial additives and come in mixed boxes of three varieties for bakery retailers and cafés to display; they have a coffee shop-suited RRP of £1.49.

"Anybody who serves any kind of snacking opportunity could sell these cupcakes," says Ian Toal, MD of Delice de France. "They are significantly different to anything on the market right now, and we made sure, in these tough times, that they are an affordable treat."

There are three varieties to each of the three collections - Loves Chocolate Trio, Loves - Very Berry & Friends and Loves - Happy Days Collection, complemented by limited seasonal editions. Special recyclable boxes, which hold four cakes, have been designed to encourage consumers to buy and share. Operators are being encouraged to box up the products as gifts or for sharing in the office.

"They’re larger than the average cupcake and they feel like a substantial eat," says Toal. "I think cupcakes could become as big as flowerpot muffins - it is growing incredibly; the revolution from America is coming over and we wanted to be first to market with something that was available nationally."


=== Cupcakes: 13.6% year-on-year growth ===

l In the last 12 months, sales of cupcakes in the UK grew by 13.6% to £33.5m

l In total, over the last two years, £10m has been added to the value of the cupcake category

l Volume also grew by 6% with 37.4m packs being purchased in the 12-month period ended 28 December 2008

l The reason for this rapid growth is due to an increase in penetration

l The number of UK households that purchased cupcakes in the last year grew by 11.6%

l A total of 32.6% of UK households now buy into this category

Source: BakeMark/TNS Data, 12 months ending 28 Dec 2008