Food shortages have hit another Kiwi staple, with high demand leading to shortages of canned cooked beans and Watties sausage spaghetti.
Customers have expressed concern over the recent disappearance of products from supermarket shelves. Countdown, New World and Pak n’ Save are currently out of stock.
But Wattie chief executive Neil Heffer said the company has not stopped production of the products and they are selling very well.
The shortage of canned beans and sausage spaghetti was a short-term stock-out issue that resulted from more than expected sales over the past two months, he said.
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“This led to a shortage of some ingredients at one of our suppliers as it tried to adjust its production to cover the increase in demand.
“We will continue to have an intermittent limited supply for the next few weeks as we ramp up production, at which time consumers should be able to find them in their regular store.”
A Countdown spokeswoman said while she hadn’t been able to order the products in some time, the company was working closely with Wattie’s to get them back on the shelves.
Rising food prices may have contributed to the increase in demand for beans and sausage spaghetti. Experts said many consumers reacted to food inflation by “trading down” and buying cheaper options.
The latest food price index from Stats NZ showed food prices rose 8.3% in August from a year earlier. This is the biggest jump since July 2009, when prices rose 8.4%.
While costs rose across all food groups, the price of processed foods, like canned meals, rose at a slower rate than unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables.
Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan said rising demand for canned baked beans and sausage spaghetti could suggest people are choosing to buy cheaper food items.
“Logically, it would make sense for there to be some sort of shift towards more affordable food alternatives, given the rising cost of living.”
According to a very orthodox economic theory, when prices rise and purchasing power falls, people move away from luxury or more expensive items, he said.
“It applies within product categories, so you’re forcing people to change the type of food they’re eating. But you’re also getting people choosing to stop paying for luxuries, like vacations or outings to restaurants.
The shift in spending is expected to continue as the cost of living continues to rise, Kiernan said.