It’s the cross that’s the hot bun seller for Woolies

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It’s the cross that’s the hot bun seller for Woolies

It turns out that keeping the tasteless flour-and-water cross all year round is very good for sales

Consumer journalist


Why did Woolworths dump its “spicy fruit buns” and put hot cross buns on the shelves all year round?
When Adriana van der Hoven asked Woolworths that question‚ mainly because she loves the buns but hates the “hard and horrible” cross traditionally put on them at Easter‚ she was told local customer research and international trends had shown that customers preferred hot cross buns to “spicy fruit buns”.
This despite them being the same thing‚ just without the tasteless flour-and-water cross.
“Whilst Woolworths takes cognisance of all customer comments‚ we also need to take into account customers voting for the product through sales‚” the retailer told her.
In other words, hot cross buns sell like‚ well‚ hotcakes.
“Hot cross buns have shown phenomenal growth over the years and a majority of our customers identify with the product irrespective of the Christian connection over Easter‚” Woolworths told Times Select.
Van der Hoven was gobsmacked. “How does one ‘identify’ with a hot cross bun?” she responded.
“Only Christians identify with this bun‚ and only at Easter‚ but I’m sure everyone identifies with a raisin bun throughout the year.
“It will save you money to take the horrible-tasting cross off!!”
But lose the massive sales‚ apparently.
Hot cross buns – traditionally sold in the UK, Australia‚ Canada‚ New Zealand and SA over Easter – are deeply symbolic to Christians‚ the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus‚ and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial.
For years, Woolworths sold fruity‚ spicy buns‚ sometimes with a single stripe‚ but never a cross‚ all year‚ expect for Easter‚ when it added the cross and called them hot cross buns.
In recent years the retailer has dared to sell the Easter buns‚ complete with a cross‚ all year round‚ and has been rewarded with a spike in sales.
Several UK retailers‚ including the largest‚ Tesco‚ have been selling hot cross buns all year round for more than a decade‚ adding extra varieties over Easter.
Two Australian supermarkets – Woolworths and Coles –tested the waters this year by putting theirs on sale in early January‚ and the resultant uproar made news headlines.
These days Woolworths’ hot cross buns no longer carry Halaal certification.
It was dropped after a group of very vocal‚ very cross Christians took huge exception back in 2012‚ one calling the move “a complete disregard for Christian religious beliefs”.

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