In the four weeks to March 22, 2020, sales of long-life meals, bread mix, rice, flour and pasta more than doubled.
Research by Nielsen Homescan shows that these numbers mean that the average Australian household has enough of these items in the pantry to last between two and three months.
"Our most recent analysis shows some clear issues in consumer behavior that we can expect in the coming months," said Bernie Hughes, managing director of Nielsen Connect.
“More time at home leads to more cooking and baking from scratch as consumers find creative ways to use their pantry staples. However, an increase in sales for convenient dining options is also aimed at households with smaller people or at households that are confronted with the different requirements of working from home and school at home. "
The average Australian household has enough rice to last 65 days, noodles for 63 days, and noodles for 55 days.
Because of the heavy storage of carbohydrates, Hughes predicts: "Brands that focus on health and fitness in the future are likely to see strong demand from consumers who see a renewed sense of the importance of staying healthy."
Australian households are likely to do more to cook from scratch and try to prepare meals outside their usual repertoire.
Data from Nielsen Digital Content Ratings shows that the Australians spent 71% more time online with food and cooking content on the last weekend in March than on the last weekend in February.
"We expect buyers to think more creatively about how they cook over the next few weeks," said Hughes.
With many families facing the challenges of working from home and caring for children, shoppers have also come up with quick and easy meal solutions, including ready meals, canned vegetables, canned soup, pasta, and sauce.
Toilet paper and hand sanitizers are still very difficult to get in stores and online. However, Australian buyers also store other household products, including general cleaners, disinfectants, and dishwashing detergents.
Disinfectant sales increased 102% year over year.
“Consumer habits are changing over time, but the COVID 19 outbreak is forcing Australian consumers to reshape their lives, habits, and spending patterns at a rate and scale that we've never seen before.
Given that households are currently locked out and are learning what it means to have restricted mobility, restricted access to physical shops, and an increasing dependence on digital connectivity, it is important to continue to monitor these trends as we move on to a new normal hire, ”Hughes concludes.