Supermarkets are predicting a bumper hot cross bun season in the lead-up to Easter but are also offering the non-crossed variety for Kiwis who love a spicy bun but are less keen on Christian tradition.

Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said buns were available at the company's New World and Pak'nSave supermarkets without the cross all year round.

"Bun customers come from a range of religious backgrounds and if they prefer can opt to purchase our spicy fruit buns which don't include the traditional hot cross bun design.

"Kiwis seem to have a penchant for these little spicy buns regardless of whether it is Easter, though obviously popularity increases over the Easter period," she said.


A Progressive Enterprises spokeswoman said non-crossed fruit buns were also available at Countdown supermarkets all year, while hot cross buns were on sale from January until the end of Easter.

The hot cross bun's origin can be traced back to the 16th century, and during the reign of England's Queen Elizabeth I, it was decreed that they could only be sold on Good Friday and Christmas.

Foodstuffs said it expected to sell four million hot cross buns each week in the lead-up to Easter.

To supply a week's worth of the buns to its 189 nationwide stores, Foodstuffs' bakers go through 90,000 kilograms of flour and 150 kilograms of sultanas, currants and mixed peel.

The Countdown spokeswoman said more than five million hot cross buns had been sold at its 174 supermarkets since they went on sale in January and expected 11 million buns would have sold by Easter weekend.