What you've been buying at the supermarket in 2021

Have you noticed a change in your supermarket spending habits during the pandemic? Not just in the amounts going out the door, but in the items you’re actually buying? Electronic point-of-sale (POS) data has revealed the changes in supermarket shopping trends in 2021.

The pandemic has taken a hammer to many Australian businesses, but supermarkets are definitely one of the winners. When lockdowns were introduced back in March 2020, panicked consumers flooded the nation’s supermarkets and stripped some shelves bare.

At first it was toilet paper and pasta sauce that were disappearing faster than they could be put on the shelves, but since those first few chaotic months new lockdown favourites have emerged.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has been collecting sales data from supermarket checkouts and has revealed the supermarket trends for 2021.

Read: Supermarkets start a price war and a new player takes aim at the giants

They found, unsurprisingly, that people were cooking more meals at home. With more time on their hands and eating out not an option for many, it seems people were putting more thought into their choice of ingredients. But at the same time, sales of instant and easy-to-prepare foods also jumped, possibly indicating cooking fatigue.

Here are some of the highest-selling supermarket items right now.

The nation has gone crazy for seafood in lockdown. Sales of fish and squid have doubled in the past 18 months, while crabs and lobster sales have jumped by a whopping 180 per cent. Even oysters (up 30 per cent) and molluscs (up 35 per cent) have been more popular with consumers.

Rather than the result of any lockdown craze, experts say we’re buying more seafood because it’s much cheaper – and that has nothing to do with the pandemic.

Our increasingly sour trading relationship with China has decimated the price of Australian seafood. China has imposed tight restrictions on Australian imports of coal, copper, wine, cotton, wood and … seafood, hence the price drop.

Read: COVID-19 accelerates online and instore shopping shift

You either love them or you hate them, but it seems banana-lovers in Australia are in the majority. Banana sales over the past year have risen 51 per cent, with the checkouts recording $551 million in transactions.

The healthy snack might have become popular thanks to the banana bread craze, or it might just be because it’s a great source of potassium and vitamin B.

Read: Shoppers abandoning Coles and Woolies, but not because of the savings

Potato chips
It’s no surprise that snack food sales have jumped during the pandemic. Even with more time to prepare meals, it can be hard to find the energy when something quick and tasty is right there. Potato chips have always been popular but sales have jumped by about 25 per cent.

Chips are tasty, but make sure they’re just an occasional treat. They’re high in saturated fat and can drive up your cholesterol level.

If last year’s lockdown sensation was making sourdough, then 2021’s has to be making your own cheese. Perhaps due to home failures, supermarket sales of cheese products have also gone through the roof. Up 22 per cent over the past 12 months, Australia’s love of cheese has only grown stronger during lockdown.

It gets a bad rap, but cheese is a great source of vitamins and minerals including calcium, protein, A, B12 and zinc. Just be sure to enjoy in moderation as it’s also true that cheese is very calorie dense.

Sales of legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts) jumped by 15 per cent. Finally, a healthy option on the list. Australians have been experimenting with the hundreds of types of legumes available.

“Legumes are high in dietary fibre, which helps keep our bowels healthy,” Dieticians Australia says.

“Legumes are a source of carbohydrate and have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they are broken down more slowly so you feel fuller for longer.”

Have you been spending more time cooking during lockdowns? What ingredients have you been experimenting with? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer