Australia Post’s decision to no longer deliver perishable food items has “devastated” producers around the country, many of whom rely solely on the service.
- On June 30, Australia Post will cease the delivery of various perishable items and small goods
- Australia Post says it will meet with regulators and authorities to discuss the situation
- For producers who rely on the service – including those who have pivoted online amid the pandemic – it’s a crushing blow
The government-owned company announced that from June 30 it would no longer carry items such as meats, seafood, eggs or frozen meals because of complex food safety and regulatory requirements across states and territories.
That is a heavy blow for growers like Victorian truffle producer Kristen Simpson, who sends 50 parcels a week through Australia Post, accounting for as much as 70 per cent of her sales.
“I’m devastated,” she said.
“Because truffles are perishable, we always pack them in little boxes of polystyrene with cold ice in order to keep the truffles as fresh as possible.
“We’d been using express post and have been very happy and confident in telling our customers that if they purchase fresh truffles, Australia Post will get it to them within a day or two.”
Ms Simpson said she was worried she would not be able to find an alternative distributor.
“I can only imagine that using a courier or other means of transport will be extremely expensive and not as reliable and not as efficient,” she said.
‘Get this sorted’
North Tasmanian salmon farm co-owner Ben Pyka, who sells hot-smoked salmon and spices, hopes the company will re-evaluate its decision.
“We probably send around $80,000 to $100,000 worth of freight in the mail with Australia Post per year,” he said.
“We as a business community had a meeting with Australia Post and suggested that they ask for a 12-month reprieve or moratorium, and that they go to each state regulator and have an open discussion about how to get this sorted.
“The government has been pushing to buy online and use COVID-safe delivery, so everyone is spending thousands upgrading their systems and now the only carrier specifically for Tasmanians – that has a door-to-door reach for all of Australia – can’t do that now.”
Keiran Spencer, the general manager of the New South Wales-based Coolamon Cheese Co, said the company had shifted its focus online ahead of the pandemic.
“Now with Australia Post removing that service, it does limit our ability to move our product to a wide distribution at a price that’s fair and reasonable,” he said.
“We are trialling a couple of other companies now, but because these are perishable items there’s no guarantee.
“It’s at your own risk.”
Australia Post in talks
In a statement Australia Post said it understood the impact of this decision on producers.
It said it was working with customers and industry regulators to determine a path forward.
This will include meeting with food safety regulators and health authorities to discuss the regulations imposed on Australia Post.
It said the “carriage of perishable food requirements differ by state and include complex requirements on vehicle type, site and vehicle registration, licence maintenance, staff training and audit requirement”.