Tinned pasta overtakes toilet paper as most in-demand item in UK shopping baskets, data shows


Tinned pasta has overtaken toilet paper as the most unavailable product across the major UK supermarkets in the last week ending 26 April 2020, with an average of 38.3% of items out of stock across the week, an increase of 5.1% compared to the previous week, reveals new insight from analysts at global retail insights firm Edge by Ascential. 

The latest data from Edge by Ascential reveals that toilet paper continued to see high levels of unavailability across the UK supermarkets, with an average level of 38% out of stock – an increase of 0.5% compared to the previous week. This was followed by frozen pastry and dough (32.5%), which had the biggest increase of out of stock products (14.1%) compared to the previous week.

Edge by Ascential analysts have also observed the following changes in the last week ending 26 April:

  • Asda and Ocado saw small rises in out of stocks of 0.5% and 1.4% over the last week. Both had rises in out of stocks of Dry Pasta but had opposing changes in stocks of Toilet Paper. In Asda, the percentage of unavailable products grew 5.3% but fell 6.4% on Ocado.
  • Morrisons saw the greatest rise (2.1%) in unavailable products across the UK supermarkets, with particular falls in popular categories such as kitchen towels (-11.1%) and tinned pasta (-20%). However, Morrisons increased stock levels across other categories, such as toilet paper (+10.5%), dry pasta (+9.4%), cleaning (+5.7%) and frozen meat and poultry (13.8%).
  • After frozen pastry and dough, tinned meals (+11.2%) and frozen sausages (+9.2%) had the second and third biggest increase in unavailability in comparison to the previous week, whilst frozen fruit (-9.6%), bleach (-6.8%) and rice (-5.4%) had the biggest fall in unavailability.

Edge by Ascential is continually monitoring the online stock levels of essential products at major UK supermarkets in light of the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows from the UK government’s instructions for UK consumers to remain at home in a ‘lockdown’ that was implemented on 23 March in order to control and minimise the spread.

Chris Elliott, insight manager at Edge by Ascential, said: “UK shoppers are continuing to stock up on the necessities and filling up their cupboards, with items such as toilet paper still high in demand, as well as canned produce. However, with frozen pastry and dough seeing the biggest increase in unavailability this week, this indicates that consumers are likely experimenting with their cooking and baking, as we entered week five in lockdown. This product is also likely to be an alternative for consumers that were unable to source key baking ingredients, such as flour which have also been high in demand.”