From stockpiling to self-indulgence? This would appear to be one of the most interesting developments during the eight weeks of lockdown.
From stockpiling to self-indulgence? This would appear to be one of the most interesting developments during the eight weeks of lockdown. In the transition from phase one to phase two, according to the Italiani.coop Observatory, Italian preferences continue to be led by eggs (+44%), butter (+46%) and, above all, flour, which rose from +114% in the first three weeks to +174% in the following five, settling at an average growth over the entire period of +152%. But it is interesting to note a real two-figure leap in aperitifs (+17%) - riding the wave of the trend for "virtual aperitifs" on Skype or Zoom - with cream spreads growing again at +37.4%. The trend in comfort food is also confirmed by Nielsen: the so-called indulgence basket grew between 17 February and 3 May, filled with sweet spreads (+39.1%), ice creams (+22.1%), pastries (+24.6%), honey (+41.1%) and potato chips (+15.9%).
Home-made products “compete” with packaged products
From their privileged observation point, how do manufacturers see these developments? For those who have a product that can also be made at home, figures are positive, as explained by Orazio Pennisi, of DTS Dolciaria, known under the Cannoli di Sicilia brand: “With the closure of bars and pastry shops, families are making their cakes and biscuits at home. Our product in trays, ready-to-fill Sicilian cannoli wafers, is carried by several chains, such as Esselunga, Aspiag-Despar, Penny, Unes, Eurospin, Lidl, CDS and Ergon. Not only has there been no decline in these sales, they have actually risen. Not enough to offset losses in the Ho.Re.Ca. channel, but certainly a two-figure increase”.
It is not so easy to maintain the same levels of sales for packaged snacks that might “compete” with home-made snacks, or which might be consumed outside the home even when purchased at the supermarket. “Some of our best-sellers, such as the Tarallino 400-g Multipack, are very popular, with the single-portion as a snack for school or at work, both of which have been out of bounds since the end of February" - says Roberto Renna, Operations Director of Puglia Sapori. “The reborn habit of baking at home has also significantly reduced the consumption of bread substitutes. But we are not going to give up: we have just launched Puglia la Merenda, a children's snack+gadget combo, and we will soon be presenting our healthy range and two new gluten-free products”.
On stand-by in preparation for the second half of the year
There is also a lot of overlap on the sweet snack front. As highlighted by Claudio Monti, Sales Manager of Rinati Dolciumi, a Tuscan brand known for local specialities such as Brigidini di Lamporecchio: “As well as baking bread at home, people are also baking cakes and biscuits, and this has affected our sales. And our main product is linked to celebrations, especially Christmas: supplies that the big chains usually plan well in advance, even now in the case of many foreign markets, to which we export 25-30% of our production. But no one knows what is going to happen this year and orders are late. Being very attached to typicality, rather than focusing on new products we want to explore new channels, such as online sales, but also a return to neighbourhood stores”.
In general, the mood described by the companies is one of cautious stand-by: only with the gradual reduction of the lockdown measures will it be possible to envisage trends and strategies for the second half of the year.