Supermarkets to work together to ensure grocery supply

Supermarket operators can coordinate with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supermarkets to work together

Supermarket operators will be able to coordinate with each other to ensure consumers have reliable and fair access to groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) granted interim permission to the arrangement.

The interim authorisation will allow supermarkets to coordinate with each other when working with manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers.

The purpose of this is to ensure the supply and the fair and equitable distribution of fresh food, groceries, and other household items to Australian consumers, including those who are vulnerable or live in rural and remote areas.

The authorisation allows a range of coordinated activities but does not allow supermarkets to agree on retail prices for products.

“Australia’s supermarkets have experienced unprecedented demand for groceries in recent weeks, both in store and online, which has led to shortages of some products and disruption to delivery services,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“This is essentially due to unnecessary panic buying, and the logistics challenge this presents, rather than an underlying supply problem.

“We recognise and appreciate that individual supermarket chains have already taken a number of important steps to mitigate the many issues caused by panic buying. We believe allowing these businesses to work together to discuss further solutions is appropriate and necessary at this time,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC granted interim authorisation on Monday afternoon, after receiving the application last Friday.

“We have worked very swiftly to consider this interim authorisation application, because of the urgency of the situation, and its impact on Australian consumers,” Mr Sims said.

The Department of Home Affairs has convened a supermarket taskforce, which meets regularly to resolve issues affecting supermarkets. 

Representatives from government departments, supermarkets, the grocery supply chain and the ACCC are on the taskforce. 

The interim authorisation applies to agreements made as a result of taskforce recommendations.

This authorisation applies to Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Metcash. It will also apply to any other grocery retailer wishing to participate. 

Grocery retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and transport groups can choose to opt out of any arrangements.

Coles has also announced that it is changing its community shopping hours, with less time available to vulnerable and elderly shoppers. 

Starting this Thursday 26 March, the first hour of trade on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be for emergency services and healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital and ambulance staff, police, firefighters and emergency service workers who hold an AHPRA card, have a workplace ID or are wearing their work uniform.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday Coles community hours will continue to be dedicated to vulnerable and elderly customers who hold a government-issued Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Companion Card, Seniors Card, Disability Card and Health Care Card.

Have you been able to access essential supplies? What items are you still finding it difficult to source?

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    COMMENTS

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    day dreamer
    25th Mar 2020
    9:57am
    Coles is doing a great job helping our doctors and nurses!!!
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    1:41pm
    I went in to Coles this morning, and the toilet paper shelves were full, hand towels not quite so much, but they have set limits on the number of items you can purchase.. Good thing too
    day dreamer
    25th Mar 2020
    9:58am
    Woolworths laid off 8000 workers at this very difficult time. Shame on woolworths!!!
    Retiring Well
    25th Mar 2020
    10:17am
    Coles have done the same in their pubs.

    They both however have been hiring lots of people to stack their shelves and offered this to their pub staff.
    Julian
    25th Mar 2020
    11:33am
    I don't it was their supermarket employees. Word has it that it's their allied businesses related to pubs and gaming.
    Captain
    25th Mar 2020
    11:40am
    Woolworth shutdown is for the pubs and clubs they own as per Govt restrictions.

    Retiring Well, you are correct, they are are offering supermarket jobs to those affected by the shutdowns.
    panos
    25th Mar 2020
    10:55am
    I have my doubts, about supply I do not believe they cannot keep up with demand for essential items, they are part of the reason for the panic, keeping stock low. If stock was always there panic buying would have stopped by now....

    I mean stores that have no toilet paper deliveries for a few days and frozen food geesus
    Sal
    25th Mar 2020
    11:04am
    Your kidding aren't you. If there was no panic buying there would be the usual stock in the supermarkets. Previously they would have had toilet paper deliveries to supermarkets probably once a week. They cant suddenly change it to daily because there isn't enough trucks or it will take the space of other essentials that wont be able to be delivered. Once everyone stops panic buying the shelves will be full but there will be no demand because idiots have already stockpiled.
    panos
    25th Mar 2020
    11:14am
    The supermarkets love it for there shareholders.....

    There new motto is treat the customer lean and mean and keep the stock low for the demand.......
    Captain
    25th Mar 2020
    11:45am
    Panos, what rubbish!

    The main reason for shortages was due to delivery restrictions imposed by Local Councils.

    Those restrictions have been lifted in the short term. Also hampering deliveries has been the low numbers of trucks and drivers available. Remember drivers are subject to Federal restrictions on the number of hours they can be on the road.
    Farside
    26th Mar 2020
    10:53am
    Panos, I don't know where you get the idea that supermarkets and their shareholders are loving it. All we have seen happen is the hoarders have bought up stocks now at the expense of future (more orderly) sales and put their logistics operations under pressure to make them less efficient.
    Belle
    25th Mar 2020
    11:15am
    I have been shopping with Coles forever, but can’t even get them to talk via the customer service line for online ordering for vulnerable people - just get a message that they have no more space for any more and to hang up now!
    Also couldn’t send feedback as that line would not allow comments to “submit”
    At least Woolworths have a form on their website so I could apply for priority online ordering.
    Looks like Coles have lost a customer and Woolworths have gained one even if I don’t get accepted for priority
    ChristineS
    25th Mar 2020
    4:47pm
    Belle, I rarely shop at Woolworths, usually Farmer Jacks, Aldi & Coles. I am waiting for Coles to set up their service. From their website: "New Coles Online Priority Service (COPS)
    We’re in the early stages of rolling out our new Coles Online Priority Service (COPS) and we’re looking to bring this service to as many vulnerable customers as possible, hopefully by the end of the week. Our priority is ensuring we can offer a good range of everyday grocery essentials with high availability to our customers who find it difficult to shop in-store. Please check back here for further updates on this home delivery service, we’ll be making it available as soon as we can." I haven't registered for the Woolworths service yet, as I am OK at the moment, don't want to overwhelm them. https://www.coles.com.au/customernotice
    Rae
    26th Mar 2020
    7:15am
    I have auto immune issues and woolies have been terrific. they don't always have everything but that is a logistic problem mainly caused by lack of common sense in customers and their greed and fear of maybe having to go without whatever it is they want right now.
    We have created a very entitled society unfortunately.
    Maggs
    25th Mar 2020
    11:18am
    Be ok if Coles could actually get their shelves stocked. Went there at 7am last week - no meat AT ALL and fruit and vegetables looked like they were 3 days old. Went to Woollies and heaps more stuff on shelves, as did Aldi. Been to Coles twice since and same story. Won't bother in future. Hit and miss with most things. If you can't get at one store just have to try another.
    Handyman
    25th Mar 2020
    11:22am
    At Coles this morning.
    Essential cleaning items all gone. Pump soap and wipes were unavailable.
    How seriously is this being taken?
    Last week 3000 people were let off a cruise ship in Sydney to wreak havoc across the country.
    Fortunately it seem that medications currently used for other illnesses are proving successful is stopping this infection in tests on people in the US and France. Hopefully production of these medications can be ramped up quickly and approval for their use for COVID gained promptly.
    Arvo
    25th Mar 2020
    2:05pm
    Possibly, the staff get looked after with supply better than customers...?
    Ok
    25th Mar 2020
    11:27am
    There is no better time for idiots to post nasty messages. If idiots would not have bought toilet papers to last and army for a decade and if idiots would not have massed in drunken mobs, life would be a lot better and a million people would still have a job. No, a few idiots make life hard for all.
    Arvo
    25th Mar 2020
    2:08pm
    True. No panic, no empty shelfs in supermarkets. No panic, supply remains normal, consumer purchasing remains normal...Alas, no primitive mindsets would make this world a better place to live in...
    ex PS
    29th Mar 2020
    11:18am
    Yes it looks like we have induced our own emergency through panic and selfishness.
    I hope those responsible find comfort at night by hugging their toilet rolls tightly againat their chests in bed.
    Mass hysteria has struck again. Why is everyone so fearfull?
    Carlie
    25th Mar 2020
    11:39am
    Woolies has been superb. As a regular online customer I was horrified after being discharged from hospital to find all delivery days booked out for a week. But Woolies sent an email and questionnaire to regular customers to see if they should get preference. I replied with details that I was disabled and included my health card number. Within a day, I was happy to see all delivery windows were open to me.
    cat
    25th Mar 2020
    12:09pm
    I have not had this service
    Farside
    26th Mar 2020
    10:55am
    https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/priorityassistance
    Curious
    25th Mar 2020
    11:50am
    The prices of popular fruit, veg and grocery items has risen in the last 3 weeks. Even Aldi should hang their head in shame. How awful to increase prices at this time.
    Hillbillypete
    25th Mar 2020
    1:24pm
    You are so right! I have been in W/Worth’s every second day for the last week! YES THE GREEDY BAR! There prices have gone very high on fruit for no reason than greed! I now shop at Aldo where I am at this time and much cheaper!
    Rae
    26th Mar 2020
    7:20am
    Wait until all that money the government is about to throw at people arrives in banks. We'll be lucky if we avoid hyperinflation and al our savings are wiped out.

    It's been a real bitch being a saver lately.
    KSS
    26th Mar 2020
    8:32pm
    Just remember there is still a drought on and prices were predicted to rise even before the virus crisis as crops were low.

    What short memories you have.
    Alan
    25th Mar 2020
    12:02pm
    Thought I'd take the opportunity to use the "seniors" shopping hour at Woolies from 7-8am. I arrived at 7.15 and looked at the shopping trolleys coming out and seen that no one seemed to have toilet paper.

    When I got inside I found there was no toilet paper, tissues, sanitiser or kitchen rolls. The meat department didn't have much left and the freezer section was nearly empty. There was some bread available but not a lot. Pasta was nonexistant and only 8 bags of rice on the shelves.

    If their aim in this "seniors" hour is to help the more disadvantages people in the community then they are doing a lousy job of it. I got very little of what I went there for.
    cat
    25th Mar 2020
    12:08pm
    I online shop regularly with Woolworths. I am 71 and have been told to stay home cos I have a cold or something probably not covid19. I tried to get a delivery from ww today and the whole week is closed So when I want my regular online shop on Tuesday what am I supposed to do?
    Brissiegirl
    25th Mar 2020
    12:18pm
    This is a huge failing of government. It is useless telling people to stay home if they cannot get their essential goods. People have to eat. I called the PM's office 3 weeks ago suggesting they appoint someone such as Jim Molan (competent in supply of goods and services) to co-ordinate the provision of essential goods to households. I know they are doing their best - the Chief Medical Officer looks haggard. However, people are not going to function well, they are not going to comply with all the necessary directives, if there is no co-ordinated, assured supply of essentials. Big fail. They are 3 weeks behind the curve growth. If they are going to lock us all up for 3 weeks to see if they can beat this virus down, do it now, but do it well, or lose the support and confidence of the population. All I can suggest is ring Lifeline, tell them you have no food and hopefully they will point you in the right direction.
    Carlie
    25th Mar 2020
    2:09pm
    Please see my reply to Koala below. Good luck.
    Rae
    26th Mar 2020
    7:27am
    This is a logistic issue as tens of thousands all now desire home delivery.

    The stores will work it out. Even now delivery people are being employed if they have a van or station wagon. Even the post office is employing extra delivery people.

    I takes time to sort out this sort of logistics.

    I think the stores are doing a pretty good job considering the changes that have occurred.

    Shop ahead and keep a couple of weeks supplies in the pantry and fridge.
    Koala
    25th Mar 2020
    12:08pm
    I am elderly and disabled. Because of this I've been shopping with Woolworths online for the last 4 years, not because of the virus pandemic. Also, I've paid for a yearly mid week delivery voucher. I get NO preferential help. I've had my orders severely limited because items I've ordered (in stock) are not available when my order is picked, due to all the panic buying by able bodied people. This is not good enough. Also, trying to speak to Woolworths on their help line is frustrating due to LONG waits of up to 37 minutes. Today my order was to be delivered between 7am and 12 noon. It is now 12 noon. NO ORDER! There has been NO NOTIFICATION about any delay. I'm waiting on the help line for 31 minutes and counting. I know they're busy, but with all the current unemployment why don't they hire more staff to help with phone operators and pickers. They're making HUGE profits according to TV and radio reports. I'm making these comments because I need to vent my frustration.
    Carlie
    25th Mar 2020
    2:07pm
    In Tasmania, Woolies sent emails to all regular online customers with a questionnaire to see if they should get delivery priority. It worked very well for me ... every day is open for delivery. Also, when we log onto the Woolies site, the questionnaire comes up again. Maybe you are in a state that doesn’t have this service. Good luck.
    Farside
    26th Mar 2020
    10:57am
    https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/priorityassistance
    leek
    25th Mar 2020
    12:10pm
    Eggs, was lots of eggs onSunday, but none at wollies today. And at coles, I bought 2 x 6pack, costing me a lot more this way, but had to do it. whilst I have only hoarded long life milk, but bought when there was plenty on the shelves a while ago. I have like 2 weeks supplies on top of the 2 weeks I normally have here. Just fresh eggs, you can only last a certain time. I might have to give up banana's as well, they go off pretty quickly, and have been hard to find as well. I really don't want to be running around the shops when people are going crazy.
    Mamacrystal
    25th Mar 2020
    5:07pm
    Leek....you can freeze bananas.....just google to see ideas for using frozen ones. Of course you can't just peel and eat like a fresh one, but you get the nutritional goodness in other ways of using.
    Brissiegirl
    25th Mar 2020
    6:18pm
    Howards Storage sell a yellow Banana Bag for about $6.95. It keeps bananas in the fridge for 2+ weeks. The outer banana skin goes black and deceptively looks awful, but the inside of the banana stays fresh and normal.
    Bundabergian
    26th Mar 2020
    10:35am
    Frozen bananas are great. Peel and break them into chunks before freezing. Bung frozen lumps into a blender (a serious blender not a girly one!) and blitz for instant creamy banana ice cream.
    Bundabergian
    25th Mar 2020
    1:05pm
    We have seen good and bad service. Hubby went to pensioner hour yesterday and got some toilet paper, we were running low. He reports that there was not much meat and a few other empty shelves. he did say that some people pushed to the front of the queue while waiting and my check out bloke the day prior did tell me that some seniors come in every day to get more TP, so abusing the system. There will always be some that abuse whatever systems they put in place.
    I know there and no hand sanitiser or even isopropyl alcohol to be had anywhere in town and I wish they would stop telling us to use it!
    I am disappointed in the raising of fruit and veg prices at a time when we really need to be eating more of it.
    I am also disappointed that it seems very difficult to get on line shopping delivered when i would expect that to be pushed harder, to avoid contact.
    Rae
    26th Mar 2020
    7:34am
    Fruit and veg is becoming a problem as the visa workers who pick the fruit are not arriving now. Hopefully the kids at home in country towns an be organised like in the old days or we are in for very high prices and not much product arriving from the farms. Even the grey nomads who travel to pick aren't there anymore.

    Unfortunately proper food comes from farms and isn't made in supermarkets. They can only sell if producers deliver the goods.
    Bundabergian
    25th Mar 2020
    1:07pm
    Oh I forgot, good on our local rum factory who are making extra alcohol for our hospital workers to use!
    cupoftea
    25th Mar 2020
    2:25pm
    B I think you will find it is ethonal? a clenser type liquid and they are making it by the thousends of bottles
    Bundabergian
    25th Mar 2020
    2:34pm
    Yes, ethanol which is a very common alcohol. We drink it every day in rum! They are making it into hand sanitiser.
    Rae
    26th Mar 2020
    7:36am
    That is good news. Great to see the beginning of companies using creativity to supply the things we need.
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    1:36pm
    Why ??????????
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    1:36pm
    Why ??????????
    Kancho
    25th Mar 2020
    1:41pm
    Struggling to buy Paster and Frozen Veggies
    sandyfaye
    25th Mar 2020
    1:42pm
    I need hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. None anywhere.
    The Thinker
    25th Mar 2020
    2:45pm
    sandyfaye, you can still find these on eBay
    Play Fairly
    25th Mar 2020
    11:47pm
    Sandyfaye, I believe Kogan had stocks of masks online, and very well could still have stocks of them. There were disposable surgical masks, and there were also washable masks, with 2 additional spare filters, for about $35, but the washable masks are adjustable around the nose area and are supposed to seal much better than the surgical masks.

    Today I saw a lady who utilized an isadora scarf around her mouth and nose area for a couple of wraps. I think that at least it was some protection for her, although I am unsure how effective that would prove to be.

    Good luck hunting something down. This is a rotten virus, and I believe you are very wise to buy one.

    Unbelievably there are some people who refuse to believe that they are at risk, and think that it is going to be just like getting a mild dose of the Influenza Virus. Too much misinformation out there.
    KSS
    26th Mar 2020
    8:40pm
    Sandy Fae why do you 'need' hand sanitiser (soap and water is far more effective at killing and removing viruses) and masks (masks are ineffective unless you are sick then they may protect others from you. Unless you have the mask with filters and they are very well fitting wearing one will not protect you. Finally people wear the masks for far too long. 20 minutes is about the max and they they need to be replaced.)

    Both products are pointless.

    And why gloves?
    Annick
    25th Mar 2020
    2:28pm
    I was in Coles in Grantham St Brunswick at lunch time the shelves were bare. Managed to get a packet of Velvet hand soap an Sensodyne toothpaste. No meat toilet rolls, past and sauces shelves were bare in most aisles.
    BERRYUPSET
    25th Mar 2020
    4:32pm
    Waiting for COPS..Coles on line priority service to come into operation..(prob end of this week)They say they will deliver to seniors,disabled etc (suspended normal home deliveries tho) They have also CUT BACK the choices down to NECESSARY items only!
    GOOGLE COLES ON LINE PRIORITY SERVICE for more up to date info!(I THINK WOOLWORTHSMAY BE DOING THE SAME)
    Ive been occasional shopping for food at a very quiet I.G.A shop NOT A SOUL IN SIGHT except cashier....IN /OUT in a flash!!HEY HO SILVERRRRRRRRRRRRR:-)))
    SteveR
    25th Mar 2020
    6:34pm
    I think articles about supermarkets getting on top of supply issues are premature. I went to my local Coles and Woolworths today and there was no toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, pasta, pasta sauce, liquid soap. hand sanitizer and several other items. It was a little better than last week, but not by a whole lot.
    BERRYUPSET
    25th Mar 2020
    7:58pm
    Many of these SUPERMARKET EMPTY SHELVES etc etc make me smile...I was a 8 year old child in ENGLAND during WW2 No toilet paper (we used newspaper)As for groceries We had ration books for everything(plus a weekly visit to the local food office for orange juice and COD LIVER OIL AAAAAAAAAARGH)I used to wait in long queues (for my mother)to get anything!
    I can remember a feeling of LETS PULL TOGETHER (HELP EACH OTHER)filtering down from WINSTON CHURCHILLS LEADERSHIP!
    We also had the threat of NAZI GERMANY STOMPING ALL OVER US..with many of us ending up in concentration camps (rumours)!
    I built up a resilience to this lastest crisis!
    SHORTAGES in supermarkets will be dealt with1(we had to wait weeks for meat fruit dairy)i can remember when bananas arrived ffrom JAMAICA (I`d never seen one)Some things NEVER arrived but we made do and mended!
    I ve seen some terrible behaviour amongst older people abusing young checkout girls!
    It behoves to set an example to everyone to be CALM SENSIBLE and MATURE!in this situation!
    Hasbeen
    25th Mar 2020
    9:45pm
    Perhaps it is just luck, or because I am 80 with a heart problem, but I used Woolworth home delivery for the first time today, ordered yesterday. There was no toilet paper or tissues, but everything else I wanted, $112 worth, was in stock & delivered this morning.

    I really could not fault them, particularly as a new customer
    BERRYUPSET
    25th Mar 2020
    11:54pm
    WOOLWORTHS ON LINE DELIVERY...GOOGLE WOOLWORTHS.COM.AU/PRIORITYASSISTANCE COMPLETE A SIMPLE FORM APPLY and WAIT FOR APPROVAL!
    BERRYUPSET
    25th Mar 2020
    11:59pm
    STACK THE SHELVES WITH LOTS OF TOILET ROLLS!
    FALALA LA LA LAAAAAA!
    Dianne
    26th Mar 2020
    11:25am
    Toilet paper of course. I had a supply so haven't as yet bought it. Everytime I go to either local supermarket there has been none. Even tried the seniors only time but if you weren't there by 7:05, you missed out. Another product is bottles of lemon juice.
    Blossom
    27th Mar 2020
    6:18pm
    Unless METCASH has changed its business methods it is NOT a retailer. It distributes products to independently own supermarkets such as Foodland Supermarkets and IGA Supermarkets + other independently owned shops.


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