Food and grocery manufacturers respond to ensure workers stay safe and supplies keep flowing to supermarket shelves

Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers, including those in Sydney, are continuing to adopt safe work practices to ensure that supermarket shelves are stocked and supplies are flowing across the city, state and the country as NSW works to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), along with food and grocery manufacturers across greater Sydney, welcome the acknowledgement from the NSW Premier and Chief Medical Officer of the vital food and grocery production and distribution work that takes place in western and south-western Sydney.

Across Australia, and particularly in Greater Sydney, workplaces have stepped up already stringent health and safety conditions to ensure workers can continue to attend work safely, supply lines remain open and production of everyday products proceeds.

With many Sydney food and manufacturing businesses located in western and south-western Sydney suburbs that have been most affected by lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, businesses are using measures including onsite testing, social distancing, separation of shifts and using technology to monitor close contacts to ensure there is no disruption to food and grocery supplies.

The AFGC welcomes the Premier’s acknowledgement of the vital work these companies and their workers are doing to keep food and other grocery essential on supermarket shelves and in people’s homes and assures the public that this will continue. The AFGC welcomes the focus on increasing vaccination rates among the young workforce in western and southwestern Sydney, many of whom work at factories that produce essential food and items supplied not just to Sydney but around NSW and Australia.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday expressed the deep gratitude felt for work carried out in the western and south-western suburbs of Sydney “to keep all of us fed, all of us well and healthy”.

Among the measures implemented by manufacturers in the Greater Sydney Region:

  • Unilever, producer of home and personal care brands including Omo, Dove and Rexona at its North Rocks facility, conducts pre-arrival health checks and onsite temperature checks on all staff before factory entry. The manufacturer also requires face masks, has implemented no-touch pick-up and delivery, uses wearable Bluetooth technology to track close contacts and has changed lunch room and shift patterns.
  • Sanitarium, producer of WeetBix, has implemented strict screening and production area “moating” to protect staff and production. The company is encouraging their staff to get vaccinated and is considering implementation of onsite testing and vaccination programs.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said greater Sydney is one of the biggest manufacturing regions in the country and food and grocery manufacturers have taken comprehensive measures to keep workplaces safe and essential supplies flowing.

“The AFGC is working closely with food and grocery manufacturers and governments to ensure there is minimal disruption as the industry responds to these necessary measures put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19,” Ms Barden said.

Ms Barden said the AFGC welcomes the NSW government’s focus on increasing vaccination rates among workers in western and south-western Sydney and will continue working with government and industry to facilitate clear communication.

Ms Barden said it was important to remember that food and grocery production and distribution is safe, reliable and highly efficient in Australia, a nation that produces three times the food needed to feed the entire population.

“People can be confident that essential products and their favourite brands will continue to be available thanks to the skill and efforts of our food and grocery manufacturers,” Ms Barden said.