Independent grocers and fresh central markets were able to overcome Covid disruptions

In the Australian market, Covid disruptions to the fresh produce supply chain have reinforced the necessity and benefits of the central markets systems. While reports emerged over the past two years of major supermarkets struggling to keep vegetables and fruit on shelves during various lockdown periods, a vast majority of the independent produce retailers remained stocked and servicing customers due to their buying from wholesale markets.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences' March Quarter Agricultural Commodities Report noted that in the late half of 2021-22, there were large disruptions to the distribution networks of major supermarkets.

However, Meegan George, chief executive officer of Freshmark, which represents growers, wholesalers, retailers, and customers within the Sydney and Newcastle Markets, said that the Omicron variant showcased the success of the two-tiered supply chain within the central markets system.

"Whilst Coles and Woolworths are still experiencing produce shortages, the simplicity of the wholesaler/independent retailer's operating model means transporting goods is far easier and retailers are nimble enough to buy produce daily and place it on their shelves a short time later," Ms George said.



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