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Talking comfort food trends, home delivery and custard with artisan dessert pop-up, Humble Crumble

Dessert innovations with premium ingredients are on the up, with both classic and comforting sweet options enjoying the benefits of increased consumer interest since the advent of COVID-19.

With economic pressures rising, sweet desserts have performed well at-home, with chilled hot and cold desserts (including chilled cheesecakes, mousses, tarts and hot melt-in-the-middle puddings) growing by 9.1% vs last year to £165m (IRI Data to Feb 2021).

And, according to data from Kantar, premium and luxury ice cream desserts are in growth by 18% (Dec 2020).

The increase in interest extends to out-of-home puddings too, with operators adapting to the restrictions over the past year in order to continue service.

Artisan crumble pop-up Humble Crumble is an example of a brand doing just that.

A foodie favourite in Old Spitalfields Market in East London; Humble Crumble successfully pivoted following lockdown to be able to deliver their premium crumbles straight to consumers’ doors, with the brand also selling ‘at home’ crumble kits, custards, toppings and more via Deliveroo.

We caught up with founder Kim Innes to find out how her pop-up has continued to deliver the goods over the past year and to get her thoughts on the flourishing premium comfort food trend.

Humble Crumble – what’s it about?

“Our premium crumbles are made to order, meaning you can personalise them to how you like. Consumers pick a fruit filling, the ratio of fruit to crumble, and a choice of either premium pure vanilla custard, clotted vanilla ice cream, extra thick cream, or blow-torched marshmallow.

“Or you can have it all for an extra-comforting sweet-hit, all garnished with decadent rose-petals.”

Why do you think comfort food/comforting desserts have been such a big hit?

“I think it comes as no surprise that the pandemic has been hugely stressful on everyone. To me, it makes a lot of sense that people would want to find small, affordable comforts where they can and desserts fit this need.

“Our crumble certainly fits the bill. I personally cannot think of a more comforting dessert in the UK as the crumble is nostalgic for a lot of Britons. It reminds us of a simpler time such as school lunches, going to the pub or family dinners.”

Have you adapted your crumble-products during lockdown?

“We developed a range of crumbles to be baked at home. This is something we always wanted to do but the pandemic thrust us in this direction a lot sooner than we would have otherwise.

“You can now buy our crumbles, custard and even bags of crumble topping online and in Borough Market. These have been really popular so we’ll continue to do this once we can open up fully again.”

What type of custard do you make? Why have you called it Pure Vanilla?

“We used to make bourbon vanilla custard, but we’ve now switched to a planifolia bean and now call it ‘Pure Vanilla’.

“This is because we use 100% real vanilla (which is very rare) and now source our beans from Bali in Indonesia, from an orchard called Made.

“This orchard helps sustain almost an entire village and the flavour is far superior to the bourbon bean in my opinion.”

What flavours/fruit-crumble-custard combo is your biggest seller?

“Most people do go for a classic apple with our pure vanilla custard. It’s extremely popular and the team jokes that it might be game over if we run out of our apple crumble, but not if any of the other flavours are out!”

Hannah Atton
Hannah is a food and drink trend analyst, consultant and NPD expert. She was previously a cross-category product developer and trends researcher for Tesco, an NPD technologist at Bakkavor and freelance trend analyst for The Food People.

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