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‘Sales down 60%’: Businesses lash AusPost over delivery change

Jessica Yun
·5-min read
Australia Post is facing fresh criticism over a decision to cease delivery of perishable goods. (Source: Getty)
Australia Post is facing fresh criticism over a decision to cease delivery of perishable goods. (Source: Getty)

Australia Post is facing a fresh wave of criticism after it was revealed that an impending change to deliveries would affect hundreds of small businesses around the country.

A spokesperson for Australia Post said the postal service will not deliver perishable goods – items that require temperature control – through its service after June, citing “complex requirements” that differed from state to state.

From 1 July, Australia Post will no longer carry meats or seafood, dairy, eggs, frozen meals, fresh meal kits, smallgoods, fruits, or vegetables, though ‘category 2’ items like chocolate will continue to be carried.

“Due to the complex food safety and regulatory requirements differing across states and territories, Australia Post will discontinue the carriage of certain foods destined for consumption across the delivery network from 30 June 2021,” it announced on its website.

It said it would “work with customers and industry regulators” to “determine a path forward”.

The change would leave food businesses, particularly those in remote and regional areas, without another delivery method.

Small businesses lash out

Sydney-based cultured butter producer Pepe Saya revealed on its social media accounts in early April that it had received a letter from Australia Post advising of the changes.

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During the pandemic, the company was forced to “go big-time into home delivery” as it lost a lot of regular business supplying to retailers and restaurants.

Pepe Saya uses Australia Post for all its regional deliveries, the company said, and the changes were made without consultation.

"We had been working with Australia Post for almost a decade," said Pepe Saya founder Pierre Issa. "Because of COVID, we had upped our deliveries to almost 400 packages a week, with no quality issues. Now we have to pivot again."

Issa added: “We got onto the online sphere because of Australia Post … they approached us.

“They’ve come back to us … saying that under the laws, you’re not allowed to transport goods in our vehicles, and that’s absolute rubbish,” he told 2GB.

Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory general manager Rhiannon Druce also said it would be affected by the changes.

“We need clarification … it’s going to affect a lot of industries and small businesses,” Druce said. “Long term, if this is going to go ahead, it’s really going to cripple our business, being a small business in a rural area.”

Milawa Cheese Company CEO Ceridwen Brown said it had heard from other Victorian cheesemakers about the changes. “If they're going to withdraw the service, we need to know the timeline,” Brown told Good Food.

“Finding another [delivery] partner will take time, and we need to build our online sales volume so that it's commercially viable.”

Bruny Island Cheese Company cheesemaker Nick Haddow shared similar sentiments, adding that the change would be “quite dramatic”.

"Sixty per cent of our sales will be affected. Over the years, working with Australia Post, our company has grown and expanded,” he said.

"They have handled and communicated it really badly. But it was not malicious, and from conversations I have had with them, they are now working to find a way through it."

Farming lobby group AgForce Queensland has urged members to sign an online petition, which has already amassed more than 14,000 signatures, calling for the postal service to backtrack on its decision.

“We weathered Australia Post post pandemic last year and our reward is to have our business decimated overnight in peak season for 2021,” the petition states.

“Surely this is a very good example of how the government can practically offer support that keeps businesses running, people employed and people fed,” it said. “Instead of a handout, just ensure supply of service is there and rethink this blanket ban.”

The impending change may also have an effect on Australia’s dining scene and innovation. Western Victoria-based farmer Matthew Koop said that he uses Express Post to supply to top restaurants.

"Chefs drive food trends in Australia. Without access to them, innovative farmers will lose a very important marketing tool,” he said.

"There are so many barriers to entry for experimental and innovative food growers. This decision will create a new barrier at a time when we need more support."

Businesses or customers concerned about the delivery change can contact Australia Post at perishables@auspost.com.au.

‘Don’t want to deliver the mail’: Labor takes aim at delivery change

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese this morning accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of ‘not wanting to deliver the mail’ on top of failing to deliver adequate aged care services and the botched vaccine rollout.

“They are essential workers, and they should be respected. But their reward for making the sacrifices they did, continuing to deliver for Australians during the pandemic, is attacks on their working conditions and the proposed privatisation of Australia Post,” he said.

“What we know is that there have been significant cutbacks away from the delivery of mail. We know that those regulations have been about making cost savings.”

Australia Post raked in $4.3 billion in group revenue, an increase of 15.5 per cent year on year, in the six months to 31 December 2020

The Morrison government has been forced to rule out any possibility that Australia Post would be privatised after former CEO Christina Holgate revealed in the recent Senate inquiry that the government had commissioned a secret review into the partial privatisation of the service.

“It’s not about to be privatised,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said last Thursday after two attempts to side-step the question.

“In terms of matters relating to reports and their processes internally being considered, I’ll leave that to the relevant minister.”

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