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Home cooking explosion and the popularity of ethnic flavours

Australians have changed almost all aspects of their lives due to COVID-19 disruptions. As the home became the centre of life, there have been some positive consequences of lockdown.

The obvious one is 58 per cent of us cooking more often, albeit out of necessity as restaurants close or out of boredom, or as a way to reconnect with friends and family.

Consumers have moved through a significant period of adjustment, starting with Passive Prevention, where we saw increased sales of virus prevention items such as hand sanitiser, household cleaners, and vitamins. This quickly moved to Active Preparation and Prevention where all necessities were stockpiled such as frozen and tinned foods and of course toilet paper.

However, as a sense of new normal arrived and consumers entered the Cocooning phase, we saw increased sales of products to enhance the home experience. Streaming services, Ice cream, and chocolate. Consumers also tried to improve upon their cooking repertoire and experiment with ethnic flavours that they perhaps would be less inclined to try themselves.

Asian Foods, which are worth about $36 million annually in Australia, were in modest value growth of 7.2 per cent in January this year versus a year ago. However, this category has seen explosive growth in March of almost 60 per cent versus the same period last year, that’s incremental $16 million in March alone.

We have seen an even bigger increase in the Indian Food category although from a much smaller category size. Worth just $7 million annually in Australia, Indian Foods saw a 71 per cent value growth versus March last year.

Immigration is also a key factor in the growth of these segments. Sixty-two per cent of Australia’s 1.5 per cent annual population growth is made up of immigration. Where China and India taking out the second and third spots respectively after England according to an immigration study conducted last year.

However, it’s not just boredom and the forced increase in at-home meals that have led to an increase in cooking. Not only is cooking a cheaper way to feed a family as 48 per cent of Australians already feel that their current financial situation is worse than a year ago, but cooking offers a new way to connect and socialise. We have seen restaurants like the Deck Café in the Hunter Valley who deliver all the ingredients to consumers the day before a chef goes live via Facebook to allow consumers a degustation to your door experience, as they follow along at home.

Australia is a multicultural nation we expect to see the increased popularity of more diverse ethnic cuisines due to exposure and experimentation. 

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