Australia’s major supermarket chains may have experienced inventory shortages due to COVID-19 delays, but the produce markets in Sydney and Melbourne report abundant supplies with little impact on distribution.
The spread of the virus and the isolation of many workers have emptied the shelves of large supermarkets along the East Coast in recent weeks.
This week’s National Cabinet has agreed to relax close contact isolation rules to resolve the growing crisis.
However, Jason Cooper, CEO of FreshState, who represents the wholesalers of Melbourne Markets, says the pandemic has brought victory to independent players and lessons to major retailers.
He argues that they simply didn’t have the same challenge for the independents as they were heading towards different beats.
“Independent retailers mainly extract produce from the central market system … and we don’t have supply problems,” he says.
“For some reason, there are various distribution processes within the industry.
“Is it due to good luck or good management? I don’t know, but surely the pandemic presents some challenges for (supermarkets) and they probably go back and look into the future. What you need to do. “
More than 5,000 companies, including independent greengrocers and supermarkets, buy from the produce market for distribution throughout Victoria and Australia.
According to Cooper, choosing from a larger pool can usually make up for the shortfall by another grower.
“We have different distribution models. We are not dependent on a particular system or one group of employees,” he says.
“There are virtually 500 independent companies operating from the Melbourne market.
“Thousands of retailers are coming in, so we can minimize the risk to our supply chain because when they buy produce, they put it on their truck and bring it to the store. . “
According to wholesaler Sean McKinney, the same is true for Sydney Markets.
More than 700 companies operate stalls, and their customers include independent supermarkets.
“Products are still coming and going every day, so independent companies were able to keep the shelves full,” he tells AAP.
“Some of the big retailers had a hard time because they had a lot of eggs in one basket and the number of people who could supply them directly was limited.”
McKinney, who is also a Sydney Markets executive, says local independent stores still have the produce they need, but admits that prices could be higher.
“Shopping at an independent company is essential to maintaining retail diversity on par with the diversity of a growing foundation,” he says.
Woolworths and Coles recently reduced orders from some suppliers, especially due to supply chain issues.
But the latter states that they are working with farmers.
“Our network includes more than 830 stores nationwide,” said a spokesman for the company.
“And as the demand from customers who stay at home and cook their own meals grows, it will be impossible to get the amount of fresh produce that Coles needs from the wholesale market.”
According to Woolworths, order reductions are a short-term solution, with shelves filling up again and starting to recover.
“We were able to increase some of our fruit and vegetable orders again. We will continue to monitor the situation with our supply partners.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said one of the benefits of the crisis was that it shed light on the abuse of farmers.
“This is really the evolution of farmers that large supermarkets have just redone them on, and they have promised them the world and have been constantly redone them,” he told Sky News. ..
“They go and make a lot of capital investment to buy a new farm, and then they don’t have a contract at the end of it. Supermarkets walk away from them.”
Little Proud says they are seeing the real change that people are worried about the source of their food and want to make it more local.
“And I think this is exciting for our agricultural sector. They no longer have to play in the sandboxes of big supermarkets.”
Vincent Brancatisano is an agricultural distributor and wholesaler in the Melbourne market and states that consumers need to be aware of their options.
“They don’t always have to flock to the main chains … there are plenty of independent operators who have access to as much produce as they want every day.”
By Liv Casben