COVID’s Impact on Produce Sales

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While consumers are making fewer trips to the retail store to buy fresh produce, there is an increased spend in the dollar amount each time they visit. The most recent data has been impacted by COVID-19 and the lockdowns experienced in Australia, which have led to changes in consumer trends. But there are some good grocery sales growth numbers that should provide hope for producers and retailers.

Currently, consumers are making three per cent fewer trips, but the spend per trip is up 11.9 per cent. Australians are spending more in their grocery store than they were previously. Consumers are making fewer trips to the grocery store and consolidating their trips into the larger supermarkets and chains.

While the vast majority of fresh produce is still being purchased in the bricks and mortar stores as part of a big basket shop, more and more is being bought online, and the growth cannot be ignored. Online has grown 69 per cent this year. Total grocery (sales) this year is down 5.3 per cent, with total online being up 69 per cent. They are expecting that this online growth will be consistent and continue to grow strongly.

These trends may have uncovered some opportunities for those who have the flexibility and ability to explore alternate chains to sell their fresh produce. While there is a sales shift brought about by trading restrictions imposed on out of home consumption outlets, consumers still require their needs met to have a “premium or indulgent” meal.

As economies lockdown, a lot of money that was being spent out of the home is being spent on in-home consumption. In some industries, that was really good, but in the produce industry, it was not as fantastic because a lot of what is being grown is being delivered to foodservice and restaurants. One option could be the food box meal kits, which is a growing space in the Australian market. It is something that, with the move to online, is benefitting from that overall shift. Food box meal kits are coming from a small base but are growing quite well, and are appealing to the unrestricted insulated consumer.

As consumers continue to reduce their purchase to one shop per week or less, being able to supply high-quality produce in-home between the large purchases may be a way to drive additional growth and get high-quality produce that was going to foodservice consumed by Aussies, as opposed to waste.

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