AU retail

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has been the catalyst for changes to consumer purchasing habits and a rising interest in food safety, according to Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand’s (PMA A-NZ) State of the Industry Report 2020.

“Covid-19 has driven change at a rapid pace, impacting the way we work, live, eat, move and use technology,” said Darren Keating, chief executive of PMA A-NZ.

Released last week, the State of the Industry Report 2020 suggests consumer purchasing habits have shifted away from the convenience trend that had been gaining momentum prior to Covid-19.

“Consumers are tending to have one major grocery shop during the week, rather than the three or four visits prior to the pandemic,” Keating said.

“The general public is cooking at home more, experimenting with new fruits and vegetables, and nothing suggests that trend will stop when restaurants and foodservice return to normal.”

With widespread concerns about public health, the report also suggests that food safety has become a major focus for consumers and the buying public.

“Consumers want assurances about the origin and integrity of produce, plus evidence that food production, handling and preparation practises meet acceptable hygiene standards,” Keating added.

“In addition to this, the way workplaces operate will change. Occupational health and safety requirements are no longer just about physical safety, but also the health-related safety of employees. This will necessitate significant reviews and redesign of facilities, equipment and amenities along the entire fresh produce supply chain.”

Keating pointed out that these changes reflect the mega trends that PMA A-NZ highlighted and explored in its State of the Industry Report 2019.

“The trends and drivers identified as a result of Covid-19 are the same as we have been living for a number of years, but what Covid-19 has done is accelerate and re-prioritise them,” he said.

“Trends that we had seen as slow burners that were to be prominent in shaping our future are here now. We’ve seen the rapid adoption of communication technology and online shopping, but have also had a reset in the way we view food safety and Occupational health and safety.”