Apple Sales in Corona Times
During the nationwide lockdown of spring 2020, demand for apples soared by 20 to 30%. Although consumers had been assured that the coronavirus crisis would not lead to food shortages, purchases nevertheless increased. Stockpiling was not commonplace and generally speaking, was limited to goods with a long shelf-life; in the case of fruit and veg, this included potatoes, carrots and apples. People also had more time to eat apples, it would seem, as they were spending more time in their own homes.
By and large, the January-April months were good ones, explains Martin Pinzger, CEO at VIP (Val Venosta Cooperatives Association). In Italy, the largest market for Val Venosta apples, demand increased by 20 to 30 % in the first four months of last year. In later months, the demand from Germany and Spain also intensified.
Impact on fruit and vegetable prices
Through analysis of statistical data for April 2020, Coldiretti (Italy’s largest agricultural association) investigated the effect of the lockdown on the cost of foodstuffs in Italy. The findings showed an increase in consumer prices of 8.4% for fruit and 5% for vegetables. This was a consequence of vast numbers of Italians spending time in quarantine, and the turmoil in the market created by restrictions regarding the consumption of food outdoors during the Covid-19 state of emergency.
In contrast to the inflation trend, which was around the zero mark in April 2020, statistical market basket data (representative sample of average consumer goods and services) displayed a significant increase in the purchase of many food products, the demand for which rose sharply during the protracted quarantine period, according to Coldiretti research.
Even in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Italian consumers were seeking out vitamin products to strengthen the immune system. Sharp spikes in spending were also driven by the desire to keep stocks in supply within the home, due in part to the recommendation of the Italian Health Service (ISS) to increase vegetable intake by including more fruit, vegetables and pulses in day-to-day meals during the Covid-19 emergency.
Market has calmed down, trend towards regionality
Although apple sales have returned to normal since the frenzy of March and April 2020, there have been a number of other fundamental changes in consumer spending patterns. The concepts of sustainability and the desire for a healthier diet have picked up speed which by nature implies, amongst other consequences, a greater degree of regionality. The global flow of goods will thus continue to undergo change into the future, and overseas goods in Europe will find it more difficult to enter the European market.
Walter Pardatscher, CEO at VOG (Consortium of South Tyrol fruit-growers’ cooperatives) sums it up neatly: “We don’t know what the medium-term effects of the coronavirus crisis will be. On one hand, many people have less money available and, on the other hand, value their health more. And an apple is always healthy.”