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Cheap lobster: How China stoush is changing supermarket prices

A large lobster and seafood spread on a balck background and Australian currency
Aussie rock lobsters are more affordable than ever thanks to the China trade stoush (Source:Getty)

Aussies in lockdown have been treating themselves to meals with lobster and king crab, according to new data.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that the sale of lobster and king crab doubled over the year.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said one reason for the uptick in the luxury food item could be our trade stoush with China.

“In the year to June, real spending grew fastest for a raft of seafood items such as lobsters and crabs, oysters (up 33.3 per cent), prawns (up 14.7 per cent), fish (up 12.9 per cent),” James said.

“In part, Chinese bans on Australian exports of lobsters re-directed supply to the local market. And lower prices would have attracted Aussie buyers.”

As if March 2021, Seafood Industry Australia was reporting WA rock lobsters were selling for around $20 each - around half the price from a year earlier.

No more DIY meals

Unlike last year's lockdowns when bread making was the big stay-at-home cooking trends, this time round has proven to be different.

The data found that the sale of baking goods like flour (down 14.5 per cent), sugar (down 19.8 per cent) and dough mixes (down 26.3 per cent) fell.

“Baking at home soared in the first half of 2020 but has lost appeal over time,” James said.

Woman kneading bread dough. Close up of her hands touching the dough.
Many Aussies turned to baking break last year to beat the lockdown bordom (Source: Getty)

And on the flip side it seems Aussies are trading baking for pre prepared meals depending on where they live and what lockdowns are in place.

The data indicated that pre prepared meals soared in the first half of last year, but pulled back as the nation started reopening.

Since the latest round of lockdowns though, there has been a resurgence with Aussies preferring easier meal options in lockdown.

Why does the ABS track our supermarket habits?

The data is still experimental and based on what has been scanned through the checkout, so it’s not specifically tracking shoppers’ habits.

The purpose is to keep track of food consumption trends and use that information to see patterns which can assist manufacturers, farmers and supermarkets.

The ABS has been collecting the data since 2011 and can also be used to help compile inflation figures so we know how much food prices are going up or down.

The data is collected from major supermarkets and accounts for around 84 per cent of our food consumption and excludes things like food bought from cafes, pubs, restaurants, bars etc.

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