Supermarkets have been adapting to Aussies cooking at home more by offering ready-to-make meals and more bulk items

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

  • Supermarkets have been rolling out ready-to-make meals as Aussies cook at home more during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Woolworths released more than 60 ready-to-make meals while Coles unveiled bulk items.
  • Marketing expert Gary Mortimer told Business Insider Australia that “the power has certainly shifted to the consumer” with regard to what is stocked on supermarket shelves.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Supermarkets have been adapting to Aussies cooking at home more often during the coronavirus pandemic.

Woolworths rolled out more than 60 ready-to-make meals – from bakes and stir-fries to roasts – as Aussies cook more at home.

The company cited Google data which found the number of Australians searching for meal inspiration in April 2020 rose by more than 120% compared to the same time last year.

“With Australians spending more time at home than ever before, households are looking for new, convenient and delicious ways to feed the family without compromising on taste or freshness,” Woolworths Director of Fresh Food, Paul Harker, said in a statement.

Coles also jumped on the iso cooking trend by unveiling a Big Value Pack sale, which includes bulk-sized ingredients like a 3 kilogram pack of penne pasta, bigger packets of lentils and soups, and even a box of 300 Dilmah tea bags.

Gary Mortimer, professor of marketing at the Queensland University of Technology Business School, told Business Insider Australia supermarkets generally used to sell fresh produce, cuts of meat and dry groceries, but these products have changed as consumer tastes have shifted.

“They’d changed because of the increase of cooking shows like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules,” Mortimer explained. “So external social factors have encouraged us at home to become almost these inspired home cooks that want to cook more challenging or intricate meals [that are] almost restaurant-quality.”

Mortimer added that tastes have also changed because of health needs and macro trends like veganism and vegetarianism.

“[There are] entire areas of vegan products and plant-based meat alternatives that now sit alongside beef, pork and chicken in our fresh produce department,” he said.

And produce has evolved too, with supermarkets not just having carrots and potatoes but pre-cut, pre-prepared or half pre-prepared vegetables designed for stir-fries and cooking.

“Products are certainly evolving to keep in line with consumer expectations,” Mortimer said. “As we go through our delicatessen department and our dairy department, once again there’s pre-made restaurant quality meals even back to the very basic snag, which now becomes a pork infused with rosemary and garlic homemade farm style sausage.”

Not only that, there has been a big shift when it comes to the convenience of meals, with the growth of grab-and-go and ready made meals at a higher quality than traditional frozen meals.

“Consumers are looking for fresher, more convenient options and I think the supermarkets have responded pretty quickly to this area,” Mortimer said. “We know that consumers are now more time-poor than ever before.”

Mortimer highlighted how much influence consumers have when it comes to the types of products supermarkets stock on their shelves. “The power has certainly shifted to the consumer,” he said, adding that, for supermarkets, it’s now a “pull” instead of a “push” marketing strategy.

“A push marketing strategy [means] I take my product, I put a price on it, I promote it and I basically push it out into the marketplace,” Mortimer said. “A pull strategy is where the customer demands change, the customer demands a range of plant-based meat alternatives, so therefore retailers will respond.”

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