Britain Can’t Resist America’s Baked Goods

According to new market research, sales of traditional British baked goods are falling, as the country develops a taste for American-style cookies, muffins, and brownies.

by Phoebe Hurst
Dec 7 2015, 1:00pm

Photo via Flickr user cookingalamel

When it comes to sugar-laden carbohydrates, no one does it like America. Who else has its children selling cookies like "indentured servants" or names medical clinics after doughnut shops? You think we'd have ever thought of adding marijuana to cake batter without a brainwave from 'Merica's chocolate chip-addled mind?

Face it, Britain: our dreary lemon drizzle cakes and staid shortbread never had a chance of competing with the American baked goods game.

It comes as little surprise, then, that according to new research from market analysts NPD Group, sales of traditional British sweet treats are falling, as the country develops a taste for American-style baked goods.

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Measuring food sold in restaurants, cafes, pubs, supermarkets, and outlets offering "food to go," NPD found that sales of scones, tea cakes, and puddings sank by just over a quarter to 150 million servings in the year to September. In comparison, sales of American-style muffins rose by 27 percent and chocolate brownies by 72 percent. It's a similar story for the cookie—that dunkable bastion of all-American deliciousness—whose sales rose by 18 percent to 151 million servings.

Commenting on the analysts' findings, NPD food service account manager Muriel Illig said: "We have developed very American tastes when it comes to sweet items."

She added that the trend for American-style baked goods has been driven by the rising popularity of coffee shop chains such as Starbucks and Costa, both of which serve brownies, muffins, and cookies alongside their hot drinks.

It's not just the US tempting Brits away from traditional sugary pick-me-ups either, European baked goods are becoming increasingly popular, with croissant sales up to 21 percent. Mark Davies, food and commercial director at French-style coffee shop chain Le Pain Quotidien agreed with these findings. He said: "Our sales reflect these statistics, as there has been an increase of sales in our pastries, croissants, and pain au chocolat in the last year. I believe this is true across the premium market, as more people look to purchase high quality food."

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But Britain's search for a high quality sugar hit has had an impact on its traditional bakeries. NPD found that while coffee shops saw a 9 percent rise in sales of desserts in the year to September, bakeries suffered a decline of 3 percent. This may have something to do with increased supermarket focus on baked goods, with chains such as Sainsbury's moving its bakery section to the front of stores to better entice sugar-seeking customers.

Despite Britain's newfound love of American-style sugar rushes, the country's biggest selling baked good is still cake, with NPD finding that sales have risen nearly 10 percent to 406 million servings.

Sure, cookie dough cookies and double chocolate blueberry muffins are great, but elevenses isn't quite the same without a slice of Victoria sponge.