Meat shortages expose supply chain failings

The possibility of bare barbecues on Australia Day should be an alarm bell to all sides of politics, NSW Farmers says, with the major retailer supply chains continuing to struggle.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said ongoing failures to prevent anti-competitive behaviour had led us to a handful of companies controlling most of our meat supply, and called on the Federal Government to address the issue.

“COVID is hitting everyone, but vulnerabilities in our food supply chains are particularly concerning,” Mr Jackson said.

“Farmers are telling us there are bottlenecks in the meat industry because of a shortage of Rapid Antigen Tests, combined with changing rules around isolation, which is a real headache for processors.

“Of course we don’t want people working while sick or infectious, and we need to avoid any further disruptions to the system at this time, but long term this situation cannot continue as is.”

Years of corporate mergers and buy-outs in Australia’s retail sector have led to a few major players dominating the market, and when their supply chains fall over so too does our national food supply. Mr Jackson said the Federal Government should look at what the United States is doing to reign in anti-competitive behaviour.

“President Biden is actively pursuing better competition in their meat sector, and I think it’s high time our government acted on the many reports and inquiries that have recommended reform,” Mr Jackson said.

“We have seen independent supply chains avoid the worst of the squeeze here in Australia, surely better competition would deliver better results for consumers.

“What we need is a two-pronged approach: more RATs today to get things moving, and real competition reform tomorrow to make sure this never happens again.”

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