A berry-growing cooperative that supplies supermarkets says it has lost 60% of its orders due to the surge in Covid cases and supply-chain issues. Currently, as Omicron infections surge, supermarkets are being crippled by a shortage of transport, distribution and shop workers, who are isolating.
According to Miffy Gilbert, chief executive of Ausberry Farmers, sheds were already being shut down and fruit would be left to rot because so many workers were having to isolate. Ms Gilbert said supermarkets had been open and transparent about their COVID-related issues, and she was preparing for sales and prices to continue dropping, along with workforce numbers.
"Twenty-five per cent of my workers are now unavailable to pick and pack," she said. "We need more rapid antigen tests (RATs) to at least keep production happening, we need more clarity on that. By the time we started looking for tests -maybe we were slow to the party- but there weren't enough and the price was exorbitant. I'm sure there are other farmers out there who are in the same boat where RATs have become the limiting factor."
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