The issues around Covid isolation requirements and the resulting worker shortages through the supply chain, are widely reported in the Australian media. This all has not so much resulted in a supply issue, but a distribution issue due the lack of workers. Fresh produce is of course particularly vulnerable to disruptions in the supply chain given its perishable nature.
Growers are struggling with worker shortages. Many growers have had to plough perfectly good produce into the ground due to limited staff numbers available to harvest crops.
On Tuesday 11 January AUSVEG was invited to take part in a roundtable with 20 priority industry groups across the agriculture, food and grocery supply chain sector. There, AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote raised key issues that were affecting vegetable and potato growers, including:
- Growers are facing significant worker shortages due to Covid-related isolation requirements. AUSVEG highlighted the need for a nationally-consistent approach to Covid isolation requirements to ensure a steady supply of workers.
- Rapid antigen testing needs to be prioritised to vegetable producers and their businesses to ensure they are able to act quickly if any of their workers test positive for Covid to minimise business disruptions.
- Highlighted the urgent need to address labor concerns and supply chain disruptions considering the perishable nature of fresh produce and the significant impact of disruptions along the supply chain on the shelf life of fresh produce.