Australia Post is making a major change to its delivery service that some claim will "decimate" businesses.
The postal giant sent a letter to small businesses in March informing them it would no longer be delivering perishable food items from June 30.
"After many years of connecting you directly to your customers, we've made the difficult decision to cease the transportation of perishable food items across all StarTrack services, including Road Express, Premium, Next Flight and Courier," the letter posted to Twitter read.
"Australia Post will also no longer accept perishable food items for transport.
"Perishable items include any item that requires temperature control during transportation and delivery, including meat, eggs, poultry, fish, game, dairy, cheese, fruit and vegetables, and frozen meals."
Australia Post told Yahoo News Australia in a statement it made the decision due to the complex food and safety regulatory requirements differing across states and territories.
"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 requirements," the statement said.
Australia Post decision 'fatal' to small businesses
Australians have slammed the postal service for the decision, saying it could have a devastating impact on small businesses already suffering as a result of bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic.
"This will be fatal for many small businesses supplying perishables and concerning for customers who want to support other regions' producers by purchasing direct and not through the big supermarkets," one wrote on Twitter.
Pierre Issa, from butter producer Pepe Saya, told Good Food to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic it began delivering produce straight to customers who bought it online.
"This is going to ruin people," he said in the wake of Australia Post's decision.
"We lost a lot of our normal business during the outbreak of the pandemic and had to go big-time into home delivery."
Petition to overturn new Australia Post rule
An online petition to overturn Australia Post's decision has almost received more than 13,000 signatures.
The petition launched by Toohey Farming, an organic farm in Far North Queensland, said stopping the delivery of perishable food items was a "devastating blow" for the business.
"The farm now has a bumper crop about to be harvested, which despite huge efforts, still has not been able to replace the Australia Post satchel delivery service," the petition said.
"When you consider a large number of these orders are heading into rural Queensland, Victoria and NSW ... maybe you can start to see the wider implication of what this means to online businesses that could be included in Australia Post's cull of services.
"Rural Australia is left cut off again even now as more Australians try and escape to a healthier lifestyle in the country.
"We weathered Australia Post post pandemic last year and our reward is to have our business decimated overnight in peak season for 2021."
Australia Post said in its statement it was aware of the impact the decision could have on producers.
"We understand the impact of this decision on many producers and we are currently working with our customers and industry regulators to determine a path forward," the statement said.
"This includes meeting with food safety regulators and health authorities to discuss the regulations imposed on Australia Post."
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