Saturday, November 27

Supermarkets stock up after ‘very early Christmas fever’

Fig, Turkey, Tofurkey, or Fish Pudding – Whatever is going on in your belly this Christmas, supermarkets across the country have been working harder than usual to make sure there’s kai on the table.

Local Christmas treat booth at Moore Wilsons

Local Christmas treat stall at Moore Wilson’s.
Photo: RNZ / Jake McKee

While people are told not to be a grinch and to buy in a panic, the advice from supermarkets is to get in fast because the shipping delays that have existed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic are persistent, which means that some products may be a rare find.

Farro Fresh, an Auckland grocery chain, has already received all of its imported produce, although CEO Bryce Howard thought it would not be enough yet.

“We are seeing a very early Christmas fever,” he said.

“Our Christmas stock [has] sold for about three weeks. “

Howard said Farro Fresh’s Christmas advance sales were up about 300 percent from last year, which in turn broke record business numbers.

Bryce Howard, CEO of Farro Fresh

Bryce Howard, CEO of Farro Fresh.
Photo: RNZ / Jake McKee

Beyond those special imported products, he also thought that people might have a hard time serving homemade treats if they left things too late.

He said there was still “a real hangover” in the supply of baking ingredients due to “the baking craze, which has come from Covid,” making “a huge dent” in supply chains.

“On top of that, the recent product recall that Chelsea’s had in all of its brown sugar, and all of the products that brown sugar comes in, has wiped many products off the shelves.”

In Wellington, preparations for the holiday season began in January for all three Moore Wilson fresh market stores in the region.

General manager Amanda Thompson said she was trying to cater to everyone, with “an increase in vegan and plant-based foods … making sure we have a lot of options.”

He said shipping had been difficult, making it difficult to plan what people might want to eat.

“Some people, I think, are sick of planning things and having them canceled, so they are likely to put it off until the last minute and have a beautiful, casual barbecue with some salads and whatever else is in the pipeline at the time.” Thompson said. .

Howard was seeing a similar trend: With Aucklandites still not knowing exactly what their Christmas will be like, he judged from Farro Fresh sales that people were planning only a few seats around the table.

He said they were selling meal kits, large and small, and “so far with ordering we’ve seen a big shift towards smaller meal kits,” which feed up to six people.

However, at supermarket giant Countdown, CEO Kiri Hannifin said he was sure he had enough of everything, as planning had started before last Christmas.

He said the supply of French champagne might run out, but the same thing happened last year and he thought people should go for a local bottle of bubbles.

Hannifin said if you need something special maybe get it early and maybe for feline friends too.

He said they had been experiencing constant problems with their cat food supply.

“So if you want to treat your cats, maybe you put in an extra can each week until Christmas.”

The key takeaway seems to be ‘get in fast if it’s a specialty product, but try to buy locally’ rather than expecting something fancy from abroad.

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