More supermarket diversity would ease supply disruptions

Fresh food markets are avoiding Australia’s supply chain crisis

Fresh markets have largely avoided the supply chain crisis that has kept shelves bare at the big supermarket chains. Supermarket distribution centers have suffered staff shortages caused by the Omicron wave that has forced as many as a quarter of their workers to isolate, prompting Coles and Woolworths to reinstate purchase limits on some products after panic buying emptied shelves.

Chief executive of Melbourne’s Victoria Market, Stan Liacos, said that, in contrast, market stall operators don’t suffer from the same problems because they buy directly from wholesale markets: “The way they purchase has far more flexibility in it than the way the far larger multinational supermarket chains do business. They basically pick the stock, and if certain stock isn’t available from certain suppliers, they simply turn around and buy from others. So they’re not locked into a handful of huge, watertight, contract-style relationships.”

According to, these stallholders have also avoided the bottlenecks caused by staff shortages in the logistics sector, where some companies have reported up to half their workers are unavailable.

Dr. Prashan Karunaratne from Macquarie Business School explained that disruptions to Australia’s grocery retail supply chain underscore the extent of specialization and market dominance in the industry,


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