Coronavirus restrictions on meals processing in Victoria will not create shortages, says Prime Minister Daniel Andrews

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews insists his strict staff restrictions at food processing and distribution centers will not lead to a national food shortage.

Important points:

  • The number of employees at the red meat factories in Victoria will be reduced to 66 percent from Sunday
  • Chicken processing will drop to 80 percent due to the different life cycle
  • The Masters Grocers Association says the measures are “impractical” and could lead to bottlenecks

In recent days, the food and grocery industries have warned of severe supply shortages in Victoria that will affect Australia if food distribution centers and slaughterhouses are forced to cut staff by a third this weekend.

Mr Andrews imposes the downsizing as part of his attempt to contain his state’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Beginning Sunday midnight, meat processors – a source of the recent Victoria outbreak – will reduce their workforce by up to a third.

Red meat factories – beef, lamb and pork processing centers – will reduce their workforce to 66 percent.

Due to the nature of the different life cycle of poultry, chicken processing is reduced to 80 percent.

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Seafood centers with fewer than 40 employees do not need to make any changes, and smaller slaughterhouses with 25 or fewer employees are also exempt.

The fruit and vegetable wholesalers will also remain open with a reduced workforce.

Mr Andrews said the changes were necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 and he believed he had the levels set correctly so there would be no food shortages.

He said there was no need for people to store groceries for months, although he warned Victorians that they might not be able to buy every cut of meat they want in the months ahead.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews urged Victorians not to panic buying meat products from the supermarket while slaughterhouse production has declined.

Kim Honan


“You may not necessarily get exactly the piece of meat you want, but you get what you need and you get all the products that are fundamentally important to you,” he said on Thursday.

“It will only make matters worse when people who have the means buy huge amounts of food.

“It just means that other people may not get the things they need. That is why the supermarkets have introduced a series of shopping restrictions.

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“A lot of work has been done to reduce staffing levels while protecting the amount of product that will be on supermarket shelves. That is our goal.”

Despite the prime minister’s attempt to clarify his plans, confusion still reigned.

A joint phone call was held on Thursday afternoon for representatives from supermarkets, grocery wholesalers and retailers to speak to Victorian government officials to learn how the proposed downsizing might work in practice.

Different businesses along the food supply chain have different needs.

Empty refrigerators for fresh meat in Woolworths supermarket near Brisbane. Some industry experts say reducing Victorian meat production will have an “impact” on supermarket shelves. (

ABC News: Elaine Ford


Jos De Bruin, general manager of Master Grocers Australia, said it was impractical to reduce the number of warehouse workers by a third.

“If you reduce warehouse staff by a third, it effectively reduces the ability to deliver. It slows things down,” he told ABC.

“In connection with this, people panic and no matter what someone says they are not going to buy their weekly grocery store, they may buy a week and a half or two if they can afford it. because it is there and they are scared.

“That will have an immediate effect on our shelves.

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“And it’s not just that. We have closed cafes, bars, bistros, hotels and restaurants. Sure, they make takeout, but there is a curfew to keep people home and eat more at home.

“We have this perfect storm of demand, and yet we have made the decision that the workforce in the distribution centers must be reduced … that is not practical.”

Mr De Bruin said he would seek clarification to see if a 30 percent reduction in staff could be applied to the overall operations of a company rather than every area of ​​business within a company.

Victoria is the second largest state in Australia in terms of economic output.

It accounts for over 23 percent of the national economy, behind New South Wales (32.1 percent) but ahead of Queensland (19 percent), Western Australia (14.7 percent), South Australia (5.7 percent), the ACT (2, 1 percent), Tasmania (1.7 percent) and the Northern Territory (1.4 percent).

It is also the nation’s largest exporter of food and fiber, accounting for nearly 30 percent of those exports in 2018-19.

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