Nielsen: Indian commodities became more expensive during lockdown

2 Jun 2020

In India, Nielsen found that basic commodities, including soft drinks, ghee, packaged tea and refined oils skyrocketed in price. In tandem with these price hikes, overall FMCG sales slumped by 34% in April, reported The Hindu Business Line.

This sharp drop in sales over a thirty day period can be attributed to the reduced number of retail transactions at neighborhood and kirana stores. Traditional retail shops were forced to close for 12 days in April and more modern grocers were shuttered by the government for eight days.

Nielsen: Indian commodities became more expensive during lockdown

Following the temporary closures, retailers that re-opened removed promotional discounts. At the same time, supply chain constraints required these shops to pay more for products, a phenomenon that trickled down to consumers who found that packaged ghee prices jumped 18%, soft drinks grew 24%, tea rose 12% and refined oils were up 14%. There were also limitations on available products which caused many consumers to opt for higher-end alternatives, contributing to the increased prices.

The effects of these price jumps were so drastic that 60% of consumers responded to Nielsen saying that COVID-19 negatively affected their household incomes by requiring them to increase their spend on necessities.

These overall higher prices and pressures on household incomes may have contributed to a tangential finding by Nielsen that sales of meat at supermarkets declined.

While many countries witnessed supply chain constraints as a direct result of coronavirus complications, Western countries conversely saw an increase in retail expenditures. Credit Suisse predicted that sales for packaged food companies in the U.S. could increase up to 30% by the end of May. Unlike India, however, where the basic necessities were the focus in retail, in the United States, specialty foods sales were up 10.3%, outpacing the growth of all food at retail, according to a report from the Specialty Food Association.

European countries are writing a similar story. In France, charcuterie grew 169%, beans, 159%, and fruits 148% in the week ending April 11, per Nielsen data. Much of this growth was in the organic sector, which has grown “much faster” than conventional goods.