Australians are warned that there may be meat shortages within two weeks unless meat workers prioritize rapid antigen testing.
The meat industry says it is now an emergency, with hundreds of workers forced into COVID isolation.
Australia’s best rapid antigen tests as rated by experts are revealed in the video above
In some supermarkets, the meat shelves are completely bare, emptied of a perfect storm of holiday shortages and the COVID effect.
The big grocery chains like Woolworths and Coles say the stock is often there – the problem is getting it into stores because COVID causes high absenteeism rates among retailers and distribution workers.
“We expect supply chain problems to continue for at least 12 months,” Retailers Association spokesman Fleur Brown told 7NEWS.
“However, they are critical at the moment.
“They will lighten up a little when we get over the Omicron curve.”
Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson has called it an “emergency” right now.
“We’re now seeing a large amount of meat workers who can’t actually get to work,” he said.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of employees up and down the east coast, certainly QLD, NSW and VIC, who are unable to get to work at this time.”
He also calls for quick COVID tests to keep meat workers at work or risk meat shortages within two weeks.
“We want to make sure we quickly test all workers on a daily basis on site to manage the food supply chain,” he said.
That means there could be no lamb on the grill for Australia Day.
“This is a strong option unless we get these options in place,” Mr Hutchinson said.
We now see a large number of meat workers who are actually unable to get to work
“People are going to suffer, and at this point it’s the consumers.”
Trade unions say port operators at the port have lost up to half of their workforce due to COVID impacts.
Trucks say they should have test priority, where RATs flow freely – and for free.
Sir. Hutchinson said many meat workers live together, so if one gets COVID, they should all isolate themselves.
“I’m actually worried we’ll have a shortage because we just do not want people on site over the next month for six weeks to be able to treat anything,” he said.
He urges the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister to reach an agreement on who can prioritize rapid antigen testing.
“Otherwise, this will be the time when we will see food shortages in this country. Especially around meat, because there just will not be people who are able to process them.”