COVID-19 restrictions highlight change in food storage habits

Recent weeks have seen the world turned up-side-down by the looming threat of the novel coronavirus, and the electrical appliances industry hasn’t been unaffected.

Shoppers first turned to supermarkets to stock their pantries with non-perishables as the possibility of a state-wide lockdown became apparent. Barely a tin of baked beans or a packet of pasta was left in the wake of the panic preppers whilst  Australia made international headlines with the infamous toilet paper fiasco. COVID-19 hitting our shores heralded a massive change in the grocery shopping patterns of Aussies.

Once supermarkets were stripped bare, consumers looked further afield in preparation for the imminent quarantine.  Across Australia, household appliance distributors saw their stocks of freezers sell out within days.

Are whitegoods now the new toilet paper?

With most whitegoods manufactured in China, it is unlikely that Australia will see many new whitegoods in stores in the near future. We’ve heard some electrical stores don’t even have new freezers available and are resorting to replenishing stock with factory seconds to meet the increased demand.

This massive rush on chest freezers highlights the change in shopping and food storage habits that has occurred over previous decades. Gone are the days of fortnightly shops and careful frozen storage of meats and vegetables; in its place – frequent trips to the shops to pick up fresh ingredients for dinner and an over-reliance on delivery apps (Uber Eats anyone?)

So, what do these changes mean for the average person stuck at home during the lockdown?

It means altered eating, shopping and storage habits. Trips to the supermarket should ideally be restricted to only necessary shops and eating out is no longer an option.  Home cooked meals are making a comeback. Meat should be bought in bulk, labelled and stored in the freezer to ensure a steady supply of protein options over the next few weeks or months. Frozen fruit and vegetables have the same nutritional value as their fresh counterparts, but can last for 8 – 10 months as opposed to a few days.

Don’t panic purchase an excessive quantity of food, especially if you lack the storage capacity. Keep in mind, supermarkets are essential services and will remain open during a lockdown, so stocking up for more than a few weeks is unnecessary.  The general recommendation has been that two weeks of food in the pantry is sufficient for Australians.

This crisis has highlighted the way we take food for granted and reminded us that our access to food has greatly changed over the past decades.  It is likely to change the shopping habits of many households going forward. The ease and necessity of ready-to-go meals and delivery will perhaps give way to more considered and planned shopping and food storage habits.  In the end that’s more economical for households and will be beneficial whilst we weather the economic outcome post crisis.