Australia Post has permanently backed down on its plans to stop perishable goods being sent through the mail.
- AusPost has committed to carrying perishable goods in the mail
- It’s apologised after making an announcement in April it would no longer courier perishables
- An ombudsman said producers were “really distressed” by AusPost’s initial announcement
In April, AusPost said it was going to stop sending products like smallgoods, truffles, salmon, and spices on June 30 due to health regulations.
Later that month it paused the ban to review its controversial decision.
Today it apologised for causing so much uncertainty for producers who rely on the service to send their produce to customers.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, was called in by the federal government to work with Australia Post to find an alternative solution.
“For so many families and small businesses across regional Australia, this is a vital lifeline,” the ombudsman said.
Mr Billson said the proposed ban on sending perishable goods sprung from a hypothetical.
“If some fantastic goats cheese out of Gippsland left in great shape but landed on the porch of a business in Karratha in the peak of summer, it wouldn’t be in great shape for very long,” he said.
“[Australia Post] wondered whether they may have been exposed to some kind of risk or potential litigation from that kind of outcome.”
The onus was on producers to make sure they packaged their products to arrive at their destination in good condition, Mr Billson said.
“Producers and their customers are aware that it’s not a refrigerated cold-chain network and the packaging arrangements take account of that,” he said.
Mr Billson said food producers across Australia, especially those in remote areas, were “really distressed, confused, and bewildered” when Australia Post made its initial announcement in April.
“I was inundated by customers as well, saying ‘hang on, this is a key part of the way I shop. I want to support these producers. This delivery process with Australia Post works for all of us’.
“Australia Post has heard loud and clear right across our vast continent that this was an own goal that was unnecessary.
“So if you get your truffle butter or your mustard through this arrangement, you can look forward to it continuing into the future.”
Australia Post conducted a review over the past few months and consulted with customers, industry bodies, and experts on the support required to continue shipping perishable goods across the country.
Acting group CEO and managing director Rodney Boys said the commitment to continue sending perishable goods through the mail provided certainty to businesses who rely heavily on Australia Post to ship their produce to customers.
“We understand it’s critical for businesses to meet growing consumer demands for home delivered food and groceries,” he said.
“The transportation of food in Australia is complex and highly-regulated and we have moved as quickly as possible to provide a clear promise to our customers that there will be no change to how we support them.”
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