Supermarket giants say their supply chains are not at risk but many items in Victoria will remain restricted as the state battles through lockdown 2.0.
Supermarket giants say their supply chains are not at risk but many items in Victoria will remain restricted as the state battles through lockdown 2.0.

Supermarket giants stick to product limits

The nation's supermarket giants say there is plenty of stock available for shoppers and Victorians are not at risk of running out of supplies.

Both Coles and Woolworths said their Victorian distribution centres would be able to operate at the required capacity to sufficiently supply supermarkets in Melbourne and throughout the state.

Coles' chief operating officer Matt Swindells said they had started to scale down staff to ensure they could reduce their headcount at their key locations while maintaining food supply.

"We will be taking out a third of the distribution centre workers which is about 1000 team members and we will be repurposing people to work from home or not travel around," he said.

"There are a number of admin functions that can be done at home and activities that we can undertake another time outside of the six weeks.

"It's about prioritising the workers that are most effective in supplying food and repurposing those that are non-essential."

Under the state government's restrictions Premier Daniel Andrews has ordered warehouses to cut their workforce by 33 per cent - originally by Friday night, but this was extended until Sunday night to allow supermarkets to have enough time to scale back staff.

Coles has more than 30,000 employees across Victoria.

It comes as Victoria battles its way through a six-week lockdown in a bid to quash the hundreds of new COVID-19 case numbers the state has continued to report each day.

Rival supermarket Woolworths' Victorian general manager Andrew Hall said they were still able to get plenty of stock to their stores across Victoria despite being in the midst of a strict stage four lockdown.

"Customers can be assured out distribution centres will continue to operate at the required capacity following our consultation with the Victorian Government this week," he said.

"We welcome the government's willingness to provide us with the flexibility to deliver on its public health objectives while also preserving the supply lines our customers rely on."

He urged shoppers to shop as they usually would to ensure stock levels could continue to be maintained in-store.

The Coles Truganina Distribution Centre in Melbourne. Picture: Tony Gough
The Coles Truganina Distribution Centre in Melbourne. Picture: Tony Gough

"We'll continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust product limits as required," Mr Hall said.

Many restrictions applied across the supermarkets on items including meat, hand sanitiser and face masks.

Scott Morrison said it had been a "hard task" responding to the state government's stage four business restrictions this week.

The Prime Minister praised the efforts of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to intervene after "many criticisms" were raised by industry chiefs, particularly on the impact on supermarket supply chains.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said there was plenty of food available in Australia and urged consumers to shop locally from butchers and groceries to help support smaller operators.

"We're a nation of 25 million people and we produce enough food for 75 million and it's some of the highest quality food in the world," he said.

"Buying from your local bricks and mortar retail store and Australian product where possible has a compounding benefit to the economy but also your community and the best way through this pandemic."

Minister Littleproud also urged shoppers to "look for the green and gold kangaroo logo if you want to buy Australian".

 

 


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