Woolies, Coles reinstate product limits

03/02/2022 - 11:00

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WA shoppers will be subjected to product limits at major supermarkets after floods in South Australia disrupted supply chains, leaving some shelves empty.

Woolies, Coles reinstate product limits
Woolworths has implemented product limits in WA. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Shoppers will be subjected to product limits at major supermarkets after floods in South Australia disrupted supply chains, leaving some shelves empty.

This morning, Woolworths announced Western Australian shoppers were only allowed to buy two packets of some items including flour, sugar, rice, pasta and some frozen products.

Coles followed shortly after, imposing limits for products like rice, sugar, flour, paper towels, medicinal items, toilet paper, COVID-19 testing kits, chicken thighs and breasts, and sausages.

Shelves have been low on stock over the past month due to supply chain issues on the east coast and some panic buying.

The situation has worsened over the past week after rain in mid to late January washed away 18 sections of the train track which carries freight from the east coast to WA.

In an update on Monday, the Australian Rail Track Corporation said the damage could take at least 12 days to fix.

Woolworths said it was working with its trucking carrier partners to send freight across to Western Australia, but there was a reduction in load capacity compared with rail.

Woolworths general manager Western Australia Karl Weber said the loss of the key freight link from the east would regrettably have an impact on product availability in stores for the next little while.

“We’ve placed temporary purchase limits on selected categories to help ensure more customers have access to essential products while we work through the disruption,” Mr Weber said.

“More than 80 percent of our fresh fruit and vegetable range is sourced from growers within Western Australia, so we expect that part of the store will hold up reasonably well.

“We also source a large volume of our milk, dairy and meat locally.

“Together with our transport partners, we’ll continue to do everything we can to get as much stock as possible into Western Australia by road and ship.”

Mr Weber encouraged customers to only buy what they needed.

A Coles spokesperson said they were continuing to review stock levels and working hard to get products through the network as quickly as possible using road, rail, air and marine freight. 

"We have a large cross-functional team that is working on our response to the current disruption to supply in Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory due to flood damaged road and rail routes," they said. 

"We are also working with State and Federal Governments, and our third-party business partners and suppliers.

"This is going to be a challenging time and we encourage our customers to be flexible if the products they would usually buy are not available."

Earlier this week, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the state government was planning to implement a ‘land bridge’, using a combination of trucks and trains to move freight, in the coming days to bring products across the country into WA.

Ms Saffioti said the state government was also considering shipping goods from the east coast and using triple road trains.

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