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Purpose, Strategy & Culture

How We're Keeping up with #QuarantineBaking Demand as the Country Cocoons

Michelle Marie Therese Villarroel
Director, Sweets & Refreshments, Grocery & Snacks
  • Across the country, people are home cocooning—staying safe at home—and finding moments of goodness in baking during COVID-19
  • Hershey has seen an increased demand in our baking products, and we're meeting the needs of consumers and preparing for the continuation of the cocooning trend
  • By leading with our purpose of making more moments of goodness, we help consumers connect with each other around cherished pastimes.

If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last few months from COVID-19, it’s that when the going gets tough, we turn to chocolate. And cookies. And cakes.

It’s been fascinating watching the sales of baking products go up as we hunker down. Carb therapy, it seems, is a complement to our cocoon. I can attest to that myself. I’ve found that baking (and banana bread) has given me a feeling of control and comfort during these uncertain times.

In late March, Nielsen reported yeast sales increased by 647 percent and was constantly out of stock. And according to Bloomberg Businessweek, sales of King Arthur flour nearly tripled that same month. The hashtag #quarantinebaking on Instagram has more than 230,000 posts and Pinterest has seen a 770 percent increase in the query "kids baking."

At Hershey, we've seen a similar enthusiasm around our baking products throughout the pandemic. Between mid-April and mid-May, cocoa sales were up 126 percent; Hershey’s baking chips were up 75 percent; Hershey’s toppings were up 59 percent and Hershey’s syrup was up 48 percent. According to a weekly survey we distribute, as high as 94 percent of consumers are spending their time baking—half of whom reported that they are baking more. Consumers are also getting creative with using candy like Hershey's Kisses and Reese's Miniatures on cookies and cupcakes. It's clear that when each day is a little too much like the one before, baking new treats for—and with—the family offers a sense of anticipation, and an opportunity for connection.

We have always led with purpose; it means the world to us that consumers are turning to our products and brand to create moments of goodness, especially during times of uncertainty. That's why our company is hard at work deriving insights about new behaviors and needs. We want to best understand what people want and be there for them today and tomorrow. That also means we're working overtime to respond to the growing demands for our baking products and candy brands in general. Our West Hershey plant is operating seven days a week to keep up with the demand for Hershey’s syrup. For our cocoa powder, an additional shift has been added to help us get ahead, and we’re closely monitoring the production of our chips, too.

In stores, our retail team has been on the ground (equipped with gloves, masks and sanitizer, of course), working closely with retail partners to plan strategically for the future and ensure stocked shelves. I’ve been so proud to hear feedback from key retail partners about how the Hershey sales team has continued to deliver, time and again.

As we look towards fall, which is traditionally Hershey’s busiest season for baking products, our team is excited to continue leaning in to baking. We’ll keep working extra hours to bolster our supply, so that we can be a part of all the fall cakes, cookies, pies, candy, fudge and, of course, tricks and treats that lie ahead.

None of us know what the future holds with COVID-19, but we’ve realized that even beneath the uncertainty, there are, and will continue to be, endless opportunities to make moments of goodness. And there’s no need to wait for them to happen. All we have to do is head to the kitchen and make them, ourselves.

Looking for fresh ideas to make moments of goodness with your family during the pandemic? Explore movie night snacks and games, baking activities and recipe ideas on Heartwarming at Home.