Australia's largest flour mill is increasing its production capacity, allowing it to produce an extra 50 million kilograms of flour by the middle of the year. The huge increase in the production of flour is because of the coronavirus pandemic and consumer demand.
Manildra Flour Mill, based in New South Wales' Central West region, has experienced a 60 to 70 per cent increase in demand for its products in recent weeks. Manager John Brunner said the company had been operating for 68 years and demand had reached a record high. "It's been very hectic, and we've had to operate our factories all day and night to keep up with the demand, in the past couple of months," he said. "It's been even bigger than the lead up to Christmas or Easter, it's unprecedented." "The orders from supermarkets and hot bread shops have gone up as people stay at home to cook, rather than going out."
Mr Brunner said new machinery would be installed at the mill, allowing production to increase by July. "This will allow us to produce an extra 50 million kilograms of flour and allow us to meet any surge in demand in future," he said.
ABARES: FEARS OF WHEAT
SHORTAGES ARE MISPLACED
The federal government’s agricultural research body, Abares, has sought to debunk fears that Australia could run out of basic foodstuffs such as rice and wheat, though it says it is possible there could be temporary disruptions to supply chains due to Covid-19. An Abares paper says fears of feed shortages are misplaced and that dwindling stocks of rice, pasta and flour on supermarket shelves are due to consumers panic buying and not due to any fundamental shortages.
The head of Southern Riverina Irrigators, Chris Brooks, has claimed that Australia risks running out of rice and wheat as a result of the pandemic and that, at least on the east coast of Australia, there is not enough of these grains being produced to meet supply.These concerns have been picked up by Nines’ 60 Minutes, and echoed by the NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro.
But Abares says that such fears are “misplaced” and that, although Australia does import rice to meet consumers’ tastes for different varieties, it also exports 52% of local rice, based on three-year averages of production. “We remain a net exporter of food. We export 70% of our beef and veal, 71% of our wheat, and 41% of our dairy products,” the agriculture minister, David Littleproud, said as he released the report. He said ensuring food security was one of the government’s top priorities and part of the $320bn response. “We have implemented strategies that include maintaining agriculture’s service and supply lines, extending work visas and providing freight support,” he said.