Supply chain issues will begin to ease but at least a fortnight of disruptions are expected

Lottie Twyford 11 January 2022 24
Empty meat shelves

Coles Kaleen has been looking a little bare in its meat department in recent days. Photo: Enya Maxwell.

Despite the easing of requirements for close contacts who work in the food and logistics industries interstate, the ACT could be dealing with the knock-on effects of disrupted supply chains, particularly for meat and poultry, and vegetables and fruit, for some weeks.

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said this morning (11 January) that supply is currently “patchy” and “intermittent” and varies across states and stores.

He said another fortnight of disruption should be expected but called for calm.

Mr Banducci and other industry representatives have welcomed new guidelines – announced yesterday by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and already being enforced in Victoria, Queensland and NSW – saying they would help keep supply chains moving.

Under the new guidelines, fully vaccinated and asymptomatic close contacts who return a negative rapid antigen test working in supply chain industries will be allowed to return to work.

Mr Morrison wants more industries to be included in the guidelines as well.


READ ALSO: Opposition tells the government to get serious about fixing potholes


The majority of food and produce entering the ACT for the major supermarkets comes from interstate distribution centres, many of which are in Western Sydney.

According to Mr Banducci, the changes would largely impact workers in these centres, where between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of staff were missing from work due to COVID.

He explained it was a matter of ensuring products could be moved from the distribution centres to be cleared and then restocked into stores.

“There is enough product in the supply chain and it is just a question of getting the flow right,” he said. Low staffing numbers in distribution centres mean truck drivers queue longer for produce.

The Transport Workers’ Union said yesterday a third to a half of all of the country’s truck drivers are currently off work due to COVID-related issues.


READ ALSO: How to find a rapid antigen test in Canberra


The red meat industry warned the Federal Government of the looming shortages due to a lack of workers last week.

“We are experiencing an unprecedented wave of staffing unpredictability. As COVID spreads in the community, our industry workers are unable to present for work for at least seven days should someone in their family or household test positive under the current national COVID protocol,” Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said in a statement.

“In some instances, we are hearing that under 30 per cent of rostered workers have presented for work,” he said.

Yesterday, Mr Hutchinson welcomed the announcement to allow more workers back to work.

“The situation will now be managed by employers working closely with staff to ensure responsible and common-sense action prevails,” Mr Hutchinson said.

However, he called for more rapid antigen tests to be made available to ensure a safer workplace for those in the industry.


READ ALSO: ACT set to give half of young children a COVID shot before school starts


Ainslie IGA owner Manuel Xyrakis said that his supermarket had also been affected, although not to the same degree as major suppliers.

His goods are largely sourced from Metcash, which has also been affected by logistics issues, “but we’re not out of a whole range of things”, he told Region Media.

“We may not have a particular brand of pasta, but there are plenty of alternatives. There is certainly a problem with meat and the supply of chicken in particular. What we normally sell in four days we sold out yesterday and the egg section is shot to bits.”

Fruit and vegetable supply has not been affected. However, Mr Xyrakis said he’d noticed some tension among customers over possible shortages and he’s asked one person to return some of the large quantity of meat they were buying.

“I’ve been here for 58 years and never in my life thought that I’d be asking people to buy less, not more. We’ve tried to avoid putting limits on purchases because, psychologically, we think people will buy without even wanting to. I don’t think people are panic buying, but they’re doing a large shop so they don’t have to be here every day.”

COVID has hit the deli staff, and Mr Xyrakis said his family had been working 60-hour weeks to cover shortages over the Christmas period.


What's Your Opinion?


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24 Responses to Supply chain issues will begin to ease but at least a fortnight of disruptions are expected
Julie Patricia Smith Julie Patricia Smith 1:47 am 13 Jan 22

Ainslie IGA owners and staff bend over backwards for their customers and local community. It is much appreciated. I hope Manuel and family gets some rest soon

Maddie Ten Maddie Ten 9:07 pm 12 Jan 22

Research the shortages

Ursula Gamal Ursula Gamal 10:57 am 12 Jan 22

Let us get the ADF to man the logistic trucks!?!

Tania Shaw Tania Shaw 10:50 pm 11 Jan 22

Woolies and coles at Tugg were pretty good unless you wanted basic meats (plenty of steak), OJ at Coles and toilet paper. Otherwise there was plenty of other food/supplies and shelf packers were adding new stock. No RATs though

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 8:46 pm 11 Jan 22

But remember. Lockdowns are bad because they disrupt businesses, mKay?

Sophie Napier Sophie Napier 8:45 pm 11 Jan 22

Andrew Norris Will someone plesse think of the meat??

    Andrew Norris Andrew Norris 8:50 pm 11 Jan 22

    Sophie Napier THINK OF THE LOST PROTEIN

    At least it'll only be a fortnight, I'll just eat badly til then 😊

    Chris Sullivan Chris Sullivan 1:09 pm 12 Jan 22

    Andrew Norris Vegan meat ?????

Grga Norman Grga Norman 8:34 pm 11 Jan 22

Good people can those some weight

Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 8:06 pm 11 Jan 22

No really. But the worker shortage was going to bite at some point.

Michael Ilsley Michael Ilsley 7:45 pm 11 Jan 22

Bad flu season

Michael Strand Michael Strand 6:43 pm 11 Jan 22

Right, change the rules to allow more potentially Covid positive people to return to work. Nothing will go wrong with that genius plan.

    Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 10:44 pm 11 Jan 22

    Michael Strand to imagine you will not contract an aiorborne virus 1 million Australians are currently confirmed to be infected with would be a fantasy

Ania Lian Ania Lian 6:37 pm 11 Jan 22

when you stand for communism, empty shelves dont matter.

Onelia Herriot Onelia Herriot 6:13 pm 11 Jan 22

Yes but Jamieson Coles sign said it was due to power outage.

Catalina Banksworth Catalina Banksworth 6:13 pm 11 Jan 22

Coles Amaroo, today at 5.00pm

    Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 8:07 pm 11 Jan 22

    Catalina Banksworth thats been Coles Amaroo every day since it opened.

Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 6:02 pm 11 Jan 22

An then you have the ADBLUE shortages which have not been fully resolved

    Julia Nesbitt Julia Nesbitt 6:46 pm 11 Jan 22

    Joanne Mitchell yes thats a real worry. All quiet on this lately but a game changer. Time we produced here.

    Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 8:12 pm 11 Jan 22

    Julia Nesbitt last I heard they had secured enough supply till February but there is not enough now . I am sure it's a contributing factor here - just not being mentioned

    Bob Foster Bob Foster 9:12 pm 11 Jan 22

    Impossible pipe dream to 'produce here' Julia Nesbitt....with businesses wanting high profits and workers wanting high wages, industry will never return to these shores as it use to be!

    Andrew Hennell Andrew Hennell 2:15 pm 12 Jan 22

    Bob we do actually make most of our Ad Blue here, it's just the raw ingredients needed are not readily available (mostly imported).

    Julia Nesbitt Julia Nesbitt 5:18 pm 12 Jan 22

    Andrew Hennell oh I did not know that.

    Andrew Hennell Andrew Hennell 5:25 pm 12 Jan 22

    https://ausblue.com.au/about-us/

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