Farmers call for calm amid unprecedented coronavirus supermarket panic buying


Kath Sullivan, ABC Rural (Australia)

Mar 20, 2020


Australia won't run out of things to eat and drink, and shoppers have no reason to panic, according to food growers and manufacturers.


There's been unprecedented demand for food across Australia as the community adopts to new regulations designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.


The national farm lobby will today launch a public campaign to tell Australians that "Aussie farmers have your back".


National Farmers' Federation (NFF) chief executive Tony Mahar said his organisation had never felt the need for such a widespread public campaign, but these were "unprecedented times".


"There is no reason to be frightened; there is no food shortage or scarcity in Australia," Mr Mahar said.


Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on Australians to "just stop it" and end the rush on panic buying, Mr Mahar said industry wanted to reiterate that farmers produce more food than Australia consumes.


"The message from the farmers of Australia is relax, calm down, be sensible and we'll get through this crisis, no problems," Mr Mahar said.


"We're definitely not going to run out of food. There's no food shortages in Australia... we produce enough food for 75 million people in this country and there's only 25 million of us.


New look at meat


Export-focused abattoirs have readjusted to meet the insatiable domestic demand for meat.


The Australian Meat Industry Council (AIMC) said there was "absolutely and utterly" no chance of the running out of meat.


"We have got a multitude of supply chains around Australia to ensure product," AMIC chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said.


Mr Hutchinson said the demand for mince in particular had surged in recent days, and some processors had even shifted to mincing "choice cuts" to meet the demand.


"Butchers are saying to us across Australia that this is the biggest single demand they've ever seen for their product ever," Mr Hutchinson said.


"Meat has now become a non-discretionary spend, it's a need not a want, within the Australian community and we're rising to the challenge of meeting it."


SPC operating around the clock ...