'We've got three times the food we need'

 

Once shoppers realise there is "no necessity to buy toilet paper in such great amounts" the supermarket shelves will refill, the Australian Food and Grocery Council says.

"The problem at the moment is essentially it's a demand surge," AFGC deputy executive Dr Geoffrey Annison told Seven's The Latest overnight.

His comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison blasted people for bulk purchasing supplies, labelling it "not sensible", "not helpful" and "one of the most disappointing things" he'd seen from Australians in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While toilet paper and hand sanitiser were the first goods to fly off the shelves earlier this month, many others have since followed including tissues, rice and meat.

Asked whether the country was experiencing a shortage of food and basic necessities, Dr Annison said "absolutely not".

"Australia produces enough food for a population of about 75 million - our population is about 25 million," he said.

"We've got three times the amount of food produced in Australia that we absolutely need."

Geoffrey Annison said Australia produces enough food for a population of 75 million. Picture: 7 News
Geoffrey Annison said Australia produces enough food for a population of 75 million. Picture: 7 News

RELATED: What panic buying says about Australians

Dr Annison said Australia is home to three major toilet paper manufacturers who have ""amped up production" and are "working 24/7".

""'m sure that as these supplies come through and people realise there's no necessity to buy toilet paper in such great amounts then the supermarket shelves will refill," he said.

He noted the government's strategy, under the health authorities, is to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"So if the government is right - and we have every reason to believe that that's the case - we don't think it will impact too much on the suppliers," Dr Annison said.

"We think that their workforce will be maintained and that supplies will go through the supermarkets very smoothly."

Trevor Flower finds some available toilet paper. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Trevor Flower finds some available toilet paper. Picture: Liam Kidston.

'STOP HOARDING'

In a lengthy and detailed press conference yesterday, Mr Morrison took a moment to address the panic buying crisis.

"Stop hoarding. I can't be more blunt about it. Stop it," he said.

"It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis.

"That is not who we are as a people. It is not necessary. It is not something that people should be doing.

"There is no reason for people to be hoarding supplies in fear of a lock down or anything like this."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was disappointed by the hoarding of supplies. Picture: Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was disappointed by the hoarding of supplies. Picture: Gary Ramage

He noted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee also advises against the bulk purchase of foods, medicines and other goods.

"I am seeking Australia's commonsense co-operation with these very clear advisory positions. Stop doing it. It's ridiculous. It's un-Australian, and it must stop," the prime minister said.

Australia's four major supermarket chains, Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Aldi, took out a joint ad in Monday's newspapers titled "Working together to provide for all Australians".

"Our suppliers and teams are doing everything possible to get as many products onto all our shelves as they can, often under very difficult circumstances," the ad reads.

"So we ask you to please be considerate in the way you shop."

'NOT GOING TO RUN OUT'

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud reiterated the figure of 75 million yesterday afternoon, describing the country's food security is "second to none in the world".

"People need to calm down and use just two words as a guiding principle - common sense," Mr Littleproud told 6PR in Perth.

"We are not going to run out of food.

"The only pressure that is coming to our supply chains is due to the panic and stupidity of people thinking we are going to run out.

"If they act normally, if they carry on their daily business, there will be food, there will be supplies, there will be groceries there every day for them to go and enjoy, no matter what."

He urged Australians to "relax" and "calm down".

RELATED: Science behind Aussie toilet paper frenzy

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has urged Australians to calm down.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has urged Australians to calm down.

Mr Littleproud said he would be meeting with his state counterparts today to ensure continued food supply.

"The only real risk that we can see coming in the future, in the short term, is labour supply in some of the hot spots," he said.

"Particularly around the citrus industry … going into their peak season now, making sure that we have some common sense around visas to ensure that we have the supply of labour to get that off the trees.

"We'll do that very quickly, I've worked with the Immigration Minister (David Coleman) … the nation's pulling together."



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