He highlighted that while it was hard to see change at the macro level, more budget-conscious trends were developing when looking at individual product categories. Trends included shoppers switching purchases from ground beef to ground chicken or pork, or switching from fresh fish to frozen fish.
Vegetable prices also saw a one-time increase due to flooding and harsh year-round growing conditions, leading to a focus on canned and frozen produce.
“In the context of that, we [also] recognize that producers face high costs. We need to be sensible about those cost increases, because they are real,” he said.
Frozen vegetables had a significant role to play as a deal for budget-conscious shoppers, he added.
“Frozen vegetables can have the same flavor and nutrients as fresh.”
The company released a business update for the first eight weeks of the new fiscal year, showing food sales are down 0.5 percent from last year, though those figures are “clouded” by the Delta virus outbreak. at this time last year.
Discount department store Big W had a strong start to the new year, up 30 per cent from last year, as Aussies return to stores.
The company also continues to feel the impacts of the coronavirus, with staff absences remaining high due to the illness.
Banducci said staff staying home due to illness was the reality of doing business under pandemic conditions.
“It’s just a reality of the world we live in and the various incarnations we’ve seen in COVID,” he said.
Investors will see a final dividend of 53 cents per share, fully postage paid, to be paid on September 29, bringing the full-year payout to 92 cents per share, up 1.1 percent from last year.
The shares fell 2.7 percent at the open to $36.55 in morning trading.
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