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A sign?

"As we are now living in the new normal, it feels like the right time for me to sign off on the regular emails and provide updates a little less frequently." Brad Banducci CEO Woolworths Group

Today I seem to have simultaneously received two 'final' emails from the CEOs of Coles and Woolworths. We have been getting regular 'updates' throughout the whole supermarket saga of COVID19 and it has been an interesting exercise in public relations. Very interesting that they should both decide to 'sign off' at the same time.

I don't know whether the same thing has happened overseas but ever since the social isolation rules and the panic buying we have been receiving regular emails from these two men - well their PR departments probably. They probably have to be signed off by the CEO and they may even have been their idea, but I doubt it. Smacks to me of the Marketing and PR people. And I can't quite remember who was the first to do it. Coles I think, but I'm not sure. And incidentally Aldi have not joined in. They are written in such a way that they really do sound as if they come from the boss. Maybe I'm maligning them and they actually do. But then when Presidents don't write their speeches, why should CEOs? Anyway, whoever's idea it was it was a good one, as it kept us informed of what was happening. Whether it made any difference to the panic buying or not they didn't say.

Anyway it seems that that particular crisis is more or less over although some items - hand sanitisers, hand wash, and flour are still being restricted. They ought to add puff pastry to that! Very interesting though that flour should still be in short supply. Actually Brad Banducci had some interesting things to say about what people are buying.

"While the slow cooking movement continues, we’re also becoming increasingly adventurous. Ingredients such as cardamom, saffron and dried sesame seeds have doubled in sales. Roasted peppers are up 65%, Asian and hot chilli sauces are both up 40% and capers are up 35%.

We’re also well into soup season. What's interesting this year is the explosive growth of dried soup mix packets (up 200%) as people make more warming soup at home.

It’s also interesting to see customers think about their health, with a big rise in vitamin sales, plus ground ginger and turmeric sales up 120% and sauerkraut up 76%. On a related topic, sales of cough and cold products are much lower this year compared to last year."

Capers, saffron, sauerkraut! And sales of cold and cough products down! Now why is that? He maintained that we were becoming more conscious of our health and of good food. Not sure he is quite right on that, but wouldn't it be great if he was.

I also heard elsewhere that the panic buying of toilet paper is an Australian gift to the world. I'm not sure whether that is true or not, but really tantalising if it is. Why, why why were we so obsessed with stocking up on toilet paper - it wasn't a dysentery epidemic? And I gather - again thanks to the Woolworths email:

"sales dropped by 4 million rolls last week, now below the sales of the corresponding week last year! This week we are on track to sell between 9m and 9.5m rolls, well down on our peak of 39.7 million rolls a week in mid March or 11m rolls this time last year." Brad Banducci - Woolworths Group CEO

I can imagine that sales will be down for quite some time.

So are we all cooking more? There was never a run on fresh fruit and vegetables although there was a brief run on meat and various frozen things. And if we are cooking more will we continue to do so? Wouldn't it be great if we did?

Our National and State governments are meeting today and over the weekend to discuss easing restrictions. These two CEOs obviously think that life has more or less returned to normal. They are also back to normal opening hours, and cutting out the

community shopping hours', but still doing all those health things in the stores. And there are apparently more online orders these days too. I wonder if that will last.

I don't think we shall be seeing cafés opening any time soon though.


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