AUSTRALIA’S grocery industry is experiencing its biggest food crisis in history, with supermarkets reporting a sharp drop in sales and a steep drop in the number of customers per store.
The supermarket industry is in its worst crisis in 25 years, with the number per store dropping by a staggering 23 per cent in July and August, the industry group Grocers Association of Australia said.
It is the largest monthly drop since August 2009, when a similar downturn took place.
“It’s the worst food shortage we’ve had in 25 or 26 years,” Grocers’ Association chief executive officer Mark Richardson said.
“The supply of groceries has been dwindling for quite a long time.”
You’re seeing this sharp decline in the supply of grocery shopping.
“The supermarket sector, which relies on small and regional stores to supply the country’s supermarket chains, is the most vulnerable to the food crisis, Mr Richardson said, with about two-thirds of grocery sales in the past four years.”
People are not able to find what they’re looking for,” he said.
The industry has been hit hard by low-income consumers, who have been squeezed by the high cost of living and food insecurity.”
There’s been a significant drop in household incomes and there’s a lot of food insecurity in the country,” Mr Richardson added.”
What we’re seeing right now is the impacts of that.
“Food insecurity has hit the poorest Australians hardest.”
While the impact on the food supply has been severe, it is not the only thing the industry is struggling with.
The number of grocery store openings fell for the second straight month in July, with a record 25 per cent of stores closing in July.
The number of stores closed in July was down 14 per cent on the same month last year.
“As people don’t shop anymore, people are also unable to get groceries because they’re unable to pay for them,” Mr Richards said.
He said the retail sector’s ability to provide fresh, high-quality food to the community was also in jeopardy.
“If we have a situation where we can’t supply the market in a timely manner, that’s going to have an impact on food prices,” Mr Richardson said.
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