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Top 10 Ranking: Packaged Food Product Availability during Coronavirus

16 December 2020 by Nathaly Gonzalez, Euromonitor International


With cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the rise again globally, noodles, rice and shelf-stable fruit and vegetables saw the biggest changes in online product availability between 12th-26th October across all packaged food categories.

Noodles in South Korea saw the biggest decrease in the number of online available SKUs, followed by rice and noodles in Japan and dried pasta in the USA. Canada saw the biggest increase in out of stock rates (OOS%) for noodles, rice, shelf-stable fruit and vegetables and dried pasta. Based on the top 10 rankings, the Americas and Asia Pacific are seeing the biggest drops in availability during the time period, suggesting that the region is coping less effectively with increased consumer demand for packaged food products.

China saw the biggest increase in online SKU availability for noodles and shelf-stable fruit and vegetables, followed closely by France and the UK. Italy and Sweden also appear on the top 10 ranking for increased SKU availability, showing improving rates of product availability in Western Europe compared to other regions. China also appears on the top 10 ranking for decreasing OOS%, showing that China is dealing well with increased demand by increasing SKU counts online and also resolving out of stock issues, resulting in a more positive shopping experience for consumers.

Getting product assortment and availability right is challenging at the best of times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on consumer markets worldwide, with many people working from home or unable to leave their homes.

Many consumers have turned to online shopping as the best way to minimise the risk of infection, and the pandemic also saw many consumers engaging in stockpiling behaviour which is leading to significant product shortages. In turn, this places a tremendous burden on e-commerce retailers’ supply chains and logistical infrastructure.

Some markets have been more resilient than others or already had more robust e-commerce networks in place. Looking at a snapshot of out of stock and SKU availability gives you a view of how different markets are handling the challenges that the pandemic has brought to online retailing.

When tracking product availability, it is important to track both out of stock % and number of available SKUs as they result in two very different shopping experiences. To deal with increased demand during the pandemic, some retailers removed SKU pages altogether, reducing the number of available SKUs instead of listing SKUs as out of stock. If out of stock rates are low, but the number of available SKUs is rapidly decreasing, it creates confusion for the shopper to see SKUs being removed without notification. On the other hand, if out of stock rates are high but the number of SKUs remains stable, then shoppers are more informed about the overall availability of products on a retailer’s website.

With Euromonitor International’s new global e-commerce product and price monitoring platform, Via, extracting millions of data points every day for standardised cross-comparison quickly reveals what product categories are selling out during key periods of the coronavirus outbreak as well as the dramatic implications these demand drivers are having on online retail pricing for select categories.

This report was contributed by knowledge partner: