Stocking up: Aussie pantries chock-full

20th April 2020 | Eativity editors

The past few weeks have seen some serious panic-buying in our supermarkets, as COVID-19 fears lead Aussie families to stock up their kitchens with essentials. While those who come in contact with the coronavirus only need to self-isolate for 14 days, new data has shown that we’re prepared for much more than that.

Nielsen Homescan research has found that sales of long-life meals, bread mix, rice, flour and pasta have more than doubled in recent weeks. Based on previous research, this means the average Aussie household has enough of these items in the pantry to last anywhere between two to three months. It seems that uncertain times call for comfort food, as families pack their cupboards with high-carb products. Nielsen’s research has found that the average household has enough rice to last for 65 days, enough pasta to last 63 days and enough noodles to last 55 days.

With so much extra time on our hands, we’re also thinking more about cooking from scratch. Nielsen Digital Content Ratings data showed that on the last weekend of March, Australians spent 71% more time online with food and cooking content when compared to the last weekend of February. We’re also getting more adventurous in the kitchen, as evidenced by a massive increase in sales of Asian and Indian cooking ingredients (up 126% and 187% in sales, respectively).

Home baking also appears to be the order of the day. Sales of flour have increased by 156%, and the average household now has enough flour to last them an estimated 65 days. Sugar sales are also up 64%, and General Mills has reported “unprecedented demand” for their Betty Crocker baking range. According to Nielsen research, bread mix sales have also increased by 170%.

However, for many families, juggling work and home-schooling children has meant that the quick and easy option is more attractive. Nielsen’s research reveals that many Aussies are stocking up on items like prepared meals, canned vegetables and canned soup. In fact, although soup is normally more of a winter favourite, nearly one-quarter of the annual volume of soup had already been sold by the end of March – normally this amount would not be sold until the end of May.

We have no bananas today.

Challenge breeds innovation

All this shopping is leaving many supermarket shelves empty. But other avenues are opening up as services change their business models to fill the breach.

FoodByUs, a former B2B-only marketplace for wholesale food suppliers, has opened up its platform to help anxious shoppers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Sydney based start-up, which usually supplies huge volumes of food and cleaning products to cafes, pubs and restaurants, is now giving consumers access to quality groceries from Australia’s best foodservice suppliers at wholesale prices, and it’s all delivered to your home for free. 

FoodByUs connects consumers directly with wholesale food suppliers where they can browse and buy fruit and vegetables, dry goods and meat and poultry from hundreds of independent wholesalers.

Australian independent wholesalers have lost between 80 to 95% of their business as restaurants and cafes have been forced to shut their doors to dine-in guests and offer takeaway only. By pivoting the business model to sell to consumers, FoodByUs is supporting suppliers, farmers and importers to stay in business.

“Seeing the empty supermarket shelves while our wholesalers were struggling to sell their stock, we knew we had to do something,” says Ben Lipschitz, Managing Director of FoodByUs. “Opening up FoodByUs to consumers will not only keep Aussie households well-stocked at great prices but will also help keep people employed across our supply chain.”

Fresh produce to your door.

The business has also developed a program to help hundreds of restaurants and cafes across Sydney and Melbourne. FoodByUs has developed a program to transform local restaurants into mini convenience stores, stocked up with essential products for the local community. Weekly webinars will teach restaurant owners about the most popular retail products, how to put together useful hampers for customers, and how to promote the service. This means restaurants can continue to generate revenue and keep more people employed while helping their community access essential supplies without breaking social distancing rules in supermarket lines. 

By shopping for groceries through, or from any restaurant that’s selling supplies, you can do your bit to support local restaurants, suppliers and farmers.