Baking as a therapy during Covid lockdown? What a sweet idea!
The Covid-19 lockdowns last year resulted in a global resurgence in baking, experts at General Mills said.
What happens when you find yourself with a few extra hours in the day, during a lockdown that has been initiated to curb the spread of a global pandemic?
You might spend that time getting into shape, catching up on your reading, or honing your gaming skills. Or, you might find yourself in the kitchen with a box of Betty Crocker cake mix, getting ready to unleash your inner baker.
This is exactly the scenario that Ali Shaikh, GM for the Middle East & Africa region at General Mills, recalls when he looks back at the lockdown that was initiated across the UAE last year to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When people were locked up in their homes, they needed something to bring them happiness and joy,” he told Khaleej Times. “This saw a global resurgence in baking during the lockdown, with Betty Crocker having the best year ever.”
Shaikh also noted that the situation resulted in families in the region now talking about baking as therapy. “Baking plays a big role in terms of learning; when families bake together, kids learn how to measure, show artistry and creativity by creating designs, and, above all, spend quality time with each other.”
Betty Crocker, which will become a 100-year-old brand in October, 2021, has been enjoying market leadership for decades in the Middle East. According to Shaikh, nine out of 10 cakes that mothers make at home in the Middle East are made with Betty Crocker mixes.
“Betty Crocker has been a constant ally in the kitchen for the last 100 years because of its guaranteed taste, convenience, and offerings,” he said. “The brand has a market dominance in the region for more than 50 years, is worth 88.2 per cent of the cake mixes segment, and is about to be a billion-dollar brand globally. We have more than 40 product offerings in the region, and sell more than four million packs here in the UAE annually, with chocolate and vanilla being the most loved flavours. Our pancakes and brownies also do much better here in the UAE, compared to other markets in the Middle East region.”
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Betty Crocker recently launched its Funfetti Birthday cake and brownies. In 2020, the brand also launched the Mug Treat, which you can bake in a minute in a microwave.
“To commemorate 100 years of Betty Crocker, we also started a new TV campaign with the slogan ‘Kitchen is for Everyone’ that aims at being a catalyst of change, and which encourages men in the family to share the workload with women in the kitchen,” Shaikh said.
He explained that, in May 2019, a teenage boy based in the Middle East, named Sultan, tweeted a video about Betty Crocker’s Mug Treats packaging being addressed only to women. His post was retweeted 3,642 times, liked 8,624 times, and had over 300 comments. The video was also watched around 405,000 times.
“The question raised by Sultan’s tweet compelled us to look into our brand’s most fundamental values and gave us the opportunity to reset the standards for our brands in the region,” Shaikh said. “We modernised our core target audience lens and moved away from caregiver to modern caregiver – helper to enabler. The language on all Betty Crocker product packs, over 20 million of them, was changed to use gender neutral language and address all cooks, men and women, as part of the ‘Kitchen is for Everyone’ campaign. By means of this campaign, Betty Crocker aims at being a catalyst of change in the region, and make the kitchen a territory for everyone.”
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