United Fresh report says consumers are looking for more value as living costs rise

New Zealand retailers are working to offer a more homogenised online-offline shopping experience, while inflation has seen the country’s consumers take a more calculated approach to their grocery spend.

These were just some of the key points outlined in United Fresh’s sixth Trend Report for New Zealand.

The report drew its conclusions based on the results of various studies and surveys conducted over the past 12 months.

It claimed that over 80 per cent of New Zealand consumers have noticed an increase in food prices in 2022, compared to 2021.

“Fuel prices, interest rates, shipping costs and labour shortages are creating the perfect storm for an extended period of inflation throughout the global economy,” the report said.

Looking at the impacts on consumer behaviour, the report said the rising cost of living meant New Zealand shoppers were more tightly managing their weekly grocery spend.

“Only around 10 per cent of all shoppers are noting the pandemic has not affected their household budget,” the report explained.

“In addition, at least 30 per cent of shoppers regularly seek out supermarket promotions such as multi-buys and opting for home brands.

“The cautious approach we’re adopting to spending is likely to remain a trend for some time, with nearly 75 per cent of Kiwi shoppers saying they think Covid-19 and its effects will stick around for at least another year.”

 Fusion shoppers emerge

 According to the trend report, New Zealand retailers witnessed a “massive jump” in online grocery shopping in 2020 and 2021. While this has adjusted slightly in 2022, as pandemic conditions ease and shoppers return to stores, a large group have taken a hybrid approach to their weekly shop.

Dubbed by the report as ‘fusion shoppers’, these consumers combine online, click-and-collect and in-person shopping modes with other options such as farmers’ markets and subscription services. Supermarket chains are now investing in ways to service this consumer group.

“As a result, retailers are re-thinking their traditional view of online and in-store offerings as different experiences and working on how to create a seamless experience for shoppers using any mode,” the report said.

“With around 40 per cent of all households shopping online for groceries in the past year, demand is still high for this service, and we may see more ‘dark stores’ in operation to meet the demand for deliveries outside the main centres.”

Reach of TikTok

The capabilities of online technology are bringing wider benefits to the New Zealand fresh produce sector.

The report highlighted that content posted on social media platform TikTok is influencing food trends around the globe within hours of being published.

“By March (2022), the hashtag #food had over 270bn views on the popular app, while #recipes and #restaurant had 9bn and 7bn, respectively,” according to the report.

“TikTok posts make up over half of Google’s top trending food searches, and recipe videos are going viral at an astounding rate, often based on the simplicity and relatability of the ingredients and the resulting meal.”

The TikTok craze shows no sign of slowing down.

“As inflation keeps our budgets tight, expect to see more prominent brands targeting viewers on TikTok with tips and easy ideas to use their products in a fuss-free, less curated way than we’ve seen in the past,” the report said.

United Fresh has promoted the New Zealand fresh produce industry for over 30 years, working with the entire value chain, from seed producers and growers to wholesale, retail and service providers.