When COVID closed shops, and many of us were forced to work from home, baking often became the go-to activity for comfort.
Different countries responded with their own lockdown baking crazes - in New Zealand it was sourdough, in Australia it was banana bread and in Vietnam and South Korea, they were making sweet Cream Cheese Garlic Buns.
It first appeared as a popular street food in South Korea and then crossed to Vietnam, before being adopted by bakeries and everyday people, in their own kitchens.
The bun’s been a great win for our Anchor Foodservice brand in South East Asia, helping to increase cream cheese sales and also bolstering sales of Anchor Whipping Cream and butter.
Director Anchor Foodservice, Developing Markets, Stanley Goh, says the key to the bun’s success was its simplicity.
“The recipe is quite easy to make. People don’t want anything that’s too complicated, whether it’s home bakers or commercial bakeries, people want something that’s easy to reproduce and tastes great, the Cream Cheese Garlic Bun ticks all those boxes,” he says.
“Timing also played a part in the bun’s popularity. When the COVID-19 crisis started, the bun was looked upon as a comfort food that people really craved during the uncertainty.”
The how-to tutorials and recipe are now all over influencers’ Instagram posts and Youtube. “We’ve also been sharing the recipe on our Anchor social media sites to encourage people to make it at home,” says Stanley Goh.
The buns were the main talking point of a Fonterra farmer’s interview on New Zealand’s highest-rating morning television show – Breakfast, on TVNZ1.
They’re just one of the popular foods using Anchor cream cheese in export markets like Greater China and Asia Pacific – other examples include Mango Cheese Beer in China (mango flavoured beer topped with cream cheese) and Cheese Tea (flavoured tea, like bubble tea, with cream cheese topping).
It’s because of this popularity that cream cheese is proving to be one of the stars of Fonterra’s dairy exports – the sale of cream cheese in Greater China has increased 58% year on year and 30% year on year in APAC – making a total of 49% across the two regions.
As for the Cream Cheese Garlic buns – they’re now sold in more than 500 bakeries across Vietnam and starting to pick up in other SEA markets like Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore - it looks like they’re a craze that’s here to stay.