AFGC outlines food industry’s emergency plans

Posted by Isobel Drake on 8th May 2009

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) this week outlined the preparation that the food and grocery industry has undertaken to be prepared for any natural disaster or other crisis.

Over the past three years, the Australian food and grocery industry and a planning team under RAWG (Retail Industry Working Group) whose membership includes AFGC’s major suppliers, major retailers and government, has been working to prepare for the impact that any crisis might have on the supply of essential food and grocery items to Australians, according to Kate Carnell, Chief Executive of the AFGC.

The industry plan includes:

  • The implementation of operational plans on how to safely keep supermarkets open and how to continue to ensure customer and staff safety;
  • A food distribution plan to coordinate, with the food and grocery industry, in case of any future shortage in supply to ensure a “fair and orderly distribution” of essential food and grocery items across Australia.

“The Australian food distribution plan is unprecedented in the world and represents a concerted effort by Australia’s retailers and manufacturers to ensure the maintenance of essential foods and household items,” Ms Carnell suggested.

“We’ve identified the sorts of products that need to be provided, where they’d come from,” she added in an interview with the ABC. “We’ve got a significant piece of software to be able to identify factories’ logistics, the demographics of communities, where we’d need more baby products, and so on.”

Currently the majority (95 per cent) of Australian households keep 3 to 5 days of food and grocery supplies in their pantries. However, this falls short of the 14 day pantry supply recommended by the AFGC and Federal Government in case there was an emergency – for example a natural disaster.

“The food and grocery industry will continue to work on its plans to ensure that any response to the current public health emergency is done in conjunction with government plans,” the AFGC concluded.

The release of the crisis information comes after the recent swine flu scare, which appears to be under control.