1 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: Retailers confident of supply chain despite 'panic' buying

10:10 am on 1 March 2020

Food manufacturers and suppliers are urging calm after reports of panic buying in Auckland followed confirmation of a New Zealander with the Covid-19 coronavirus.

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Tissues sold out at this supermarket in Taumarunui. Photo: RNZ

Since the country's first case of the virus was confirmed on Friday night, people have been buying up face masks and stocking up on toilet paper, hand sanitiser and tinned food.

There were queues at Pak-N-Save in Wairau Road yesterday, when people bought up hand sanitiser, toilet paper and canned goods in what has been described as the shop's busiest day.

Today, there were normal flows of customers, but the supermarket had run out of hand sanitizer and wipes.

The Food and Grocery Council said there was no need for people to go and clear supermarket shelves, with chief executive Katherine Rich urging people not to hoard stock.

"I would say to people 'look, you don't need to do that. By all means buy enough for your family's needs but there's no reason to hoard and buy more than you can actually use over the next three to six months.

"When people and strip the shelves and fill up trolley after trolley just as individuals it becomes very unfair on other customers, it's absolutely not needed."

Rich said the food and grocery supply chain had faced much tougher challenges, and shoppers need not panic.

"The food and grocery supply chain is very resilient. We've been through earthquakes, flood, two world wars and all sorts of upheaval. This is nothing compared to those challenges."

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also warned people against panic buying, but blamed "irresponsible" headlines for causing "unnecessary" public anxiety.

She said there was no need to panic.

"I'm absolutely confident ... the health system is responding as we would expect. What has been beyond our control have been what I would call irresponsible headlines.

"If you need a bottle of milk, go and get it. If you don't, do not react in any other way than you would on any other day."

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