Countdown resolves supply shortages as 1,000 staff are isolated


The countdown struggles to restock supermarket shelves as nearly 1,000 staff across the country self-isolate due to Covid-19.

Around 45% of employees at Countdown’s two Auckland distribution centers are in isolation, while a further 10% of Auckland store employees are self-isolating either as a positive Covid case or as a household contact.

Countdown’s director of general affairs, safety and sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, said the lack of staff had had an impact on the amount of products distributed in stores, hence why some had empty shelves.

“The main thing is that there’s plenty of food and groceries to go around — it just takes longer to go through. Please be patient with us,” Hannifin said.

“With fewer team members available to work across the network, we are prioritizing getting key lines and essential products to our stores, so customers may not always see their favorite brands or products. We are also changing the way we operate in some stores and distributor centers, doing things like temporarily moving the team to support critical areas and reducing hours if necessary.

“Our team is doing their best to make sure our customers, especially those staying home and self-isolating, get what they need, but it’s difficult at the moment.”

Hannifin said all isolated staff are doing well, while rapid antigen tests will be available to buy from Countdown pharmacies from this week.

Similarly, Foodstuffs also said it was suffering from staff shortages due to the virus.

General affairs manager Emma Wooster said getting products to stores and onto shelves was Foodstuffs’ “biggest problem” at the moment.

“As some of our suppliers are impacted by staff isolation, we have been working with them to find the best way to maximize product availability in stores, including prioritizing stocking of the most popular items in first.

“We expect the supply chain to be lumpy with intermittent gaps on the shelves as Omicron reaches its peak.”

He comes as there is 19,566 community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand on Tuesday.

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