Coles shoppers demand answers as staples disappear from freezers

With summer officially here, Aussies are looking to snack on hot chips and cold treats, but as wet weather continues, shoppers in parts of Victoria, NSW and Western Australia have noticed a range of items disappearing from Coles supermarket freezers.

Customers have complained that frozen chips and a range of dairy products are unavailable, but while prolonged wet weather conditions are threatening the supply of potatoes, the dairy industry is not affected in the same way, raising questions about the apparent lack of supplies.

John Droppert, Industry Insights and Analysis Manager for Dairy Australia, says that despite certain challenges such as floods that have submerged certain factories, there has been nothing significant to merit a drop in supply of milk and other dairy products.

Empty Coles freezer
A shopper was disappointed to see frozen items missing from Coles Aintree. Source: Facebook

"The dairy industry has been knocked around by some events," Droppert told Yahoo News. "But in terms of absolute supply, there have been no disruptions. In the grand scheme of things, the level of disruption is not significant," he assured.

Coles has been approached for comment, while rival Woolworths echoed Dairy Australia's stance that there have been no disruptions to dairy supply to merit an ice cream shortage, even as the volume of milk being produced by dairy farmers in Australia saw a decline earlier in the year. A Woolworths spokesperson said retailers face no shortage of milk supply, and can also import a significant volume of milk from overseas.

Coles customers lash out

Coles customers have shared their frustration over frozen food shortages at local stores, with a number complaining about not seeing goods such as chips for weeks.

"Why is there never anything at Coles Pinjarra? For months... low stock, fridge sections have next to nothing. And is there a shortage on ice cream?" one disgruntled customer asked in a Facebook post. "There hasn't been any for weeks... I don't want to have to travel into Mandurah for s**t. When I feel like ice cream, I want it. And not the $10 plus tub either."

Products axed due to potato shortage

Meanwhile, brands such as PepsiCo Australia have warned that stock levels of popular chip brands Smiths and Red Rock Deli could be affected by the shortage of potato supplies due to the unusually wet weather.

Victoria Farmers Federation Vice President of Horticulture Kathryn Myers mentioned that the ongoing rain has been a challenge for farmers in potato-growing regions, and industry leaders expect prices to go up.

Foodbomb, an online marketplace for wholesale products, said that although larger potato suppliers tend to source their potatoes internationally, the current global shipping crisis has "become extremely expensive and delayed", prompting suppliers to turn to local growers to buy stock.

However, due to shortages, less popular products such as potato gems and hash browns have had to be "temporarily discontinued". The cold weather and frost have also caused potatoes not to grow as they're meant to as they're producing extra sugar.

Golden Fries National Sales Manager Limor Horowitz said in a market update that this has had a massive impact on supplies of chips. "Instead of having an endless supply, they now cap each distributor, which is extremely challenging," Horowitz said. "We're now doing only three lines and focus on products that sell a lot more which are the 10ml/13ml/15ml – the go-tos used in chicken charcoal venues, fish and chip restaurants and souvlaki bars."

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