A myriad of significant and unprecedented events including bushfires, drought conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic have created a challenging start to 2020, testing the fresh produce industry like never before.
These events have had a major impact on the supply and demand cycle of fresh produce, forcing the industry to adapt to the everchanging landscape and consumer needs.
With many hospitality businesses shutting their doors and Australians around the country asked to stay at home for all non-essential purposes, more consumers than ever before are eating at home. They are seeking a rainbow of high-quality fresh fruit and vegetables to boost their immunity and general wellbeing during a time of isolation, social distancing and health uncertainty.
This increase of at-home consumption and demand has meant that all stages of the supply cycle have had to adapt to ensure enough produce is available for consumers. Greengrocers have increased their efforts to provide shoppers with a steady supply of diverse in-season produce to meet growing demands. The restocking of shelves daily and the implementation of various cleanliness and safety measures has become paramount. These practices enable consumers to shop safely, as well as maintain a healthy, balanced diet during this difficult time.
Although the European Food Safety Authority has stated there is no current evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 by food, the current climate has made it imperative for the fresh food sector to implement strict in-store protocols outlined by Safe Food Australia to ensure consumer confidence.
These measures include staff frequently cleaning and sanitising their shops, washing their hands regularly and taking extra precautions to avoid food contamination. Consumers are also encouraged to undertake their own health and safety regime, such as regularly washing their hands and their fresh produce prior to consumption to eliminate any potential spread.
With over 500 independent retailers and stores across the country, all efforts have been made to ensure a safe and uninterrupted supply of locally grown, in-season fresh fruit and vegetables to keep Australians healthy and happy throughout this time.