30 Nov 2021

Buy it if you see it - Food & Grocery Council CEO's Christmas warning

From Checkpoint, 5:22 pm on 30 November 2021

Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich says supply chain issues have eased and Auckland supermarkets should return to normal stock levels in a matter of days.

Bare supermarket shelves and missing products has been noticed, particularly in Auckland.

Rich has told Checkpoint people should be thinking about what they need for Christmas and buy it when they see it.

There have been staff strikes, cost increases and cancelled shipping hitting supermarket shelves in New Zealand.

"I haven't heard of anything I'm really worried about but there'll be things that will surprise us, because the global supply chain has really taken a hammering this year."

Countdown is playing catch-up after a strike last week across its two Auckland Distribution centres which has since been settled.

Rich said stock delays in Auckland supermarkets should be settled in a matter of days.

"The supermarket supply chain is a bit like a pipeline and if something disrupts that it takes a while to get things back into water."

She understood there were shortages across the board but said items such as toilet paper and dried fruits were the most affected.

However, Rich said her members had assured her the toilet paper shortage should not cause alarm.

Some global shipping companies had cancelled their routes to New Zealand in an effort to kickstart momentum in the Northern Hemisphere.

Shipping container costs had increased in price by upwards of 500 percent, she said.

Rich said the grocery sector was working behind the scenes to convince shipping companies not to "scrub New Zealand off the map."

"Nothing is easy in the supermarket sector at the moment, it's required a lot of really nimble action from supply chain directors... usually it's a well-oiled machine but there will be a few on occasion where you can't find your favourite brand."

She said global supply chain issues have not just affected the grocery sector with many businesses left struggling with delayed stock orders.

Sugar recall

Earlier this month, three brands of soft brown and raw sugar products were recalled due to low level lead contamination.

However, keen bakers are in for relief as Rich confirmed the products are soon to return to supermarket shelves.

"Most brown sugar was taken off the shelves because of a contamination in a ship but that has all been tidied up.

"Once again [the supply chain] is like a pipe, they just need to crank up their processing and get it back on the shelf."

She said Chelsea Sugar and Goodman-Fielder had assured them the recalled brands would be back on the shelves shortly.