Supermarket shelves have been stripped bare and supply shortages are expected for at least another week in areas affected by catastrophic flooding.
Coles and Woolworths have placed purchasing limits on items like toilet paper and meat at several stores in Queensland and NSW, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci told the ABC this morning.
He said 20 stores had closed in recent days, although 12 had since reopened.
With floods continuing to ravage NSW, he said other stores, including in Richmond and Lismore, may need to close.
Purchasing limits ‘prevent panic buying’
He said limiting the number of items customers can buy in one go is considered a necessary step to prevent panic buying.
”We remember the pandemic where we saw people fighting over rolls of toilet paper in supermarkets,” Banducci said.
He said a variety of supply chains had been affected, including meat and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Shortages of supplies expected for another week
Meat-delivery service Our Cow, based in Casino in the Northern Rivers area of NSW, has not been able to deliver meat due to road closures to both the north and south.
Founder Bianca Tarrant said she was also facing staff shortages as some had lost their homes and possessions to the raging floods.
“They've lost everything that they own ... it's just absolutely devastating to look at what's going on,” she said.
Roads reopened this morning for Tarrant’s trucks to resume deliveries, which she said would be good news for people struggling to buy food in the area.
“There's nothing anywhere, there's no food, there's no fuel, we can't get a loaf of bread in town,” she said.
Tarrant predicted a prolonged meat shortage because millions of dollars in livestock had been lost in the floods and beef-processing plants had been closed.
“These shortages will last for quite a few days,” she said.
“We’re waiting for the road to open back up because it’s affected so many people – truck drivers, abattoir workers and shop assistants.
“We're just trying to support our staff and the community as much as we can.”