Shoppers across large parts of Australia will face fresh produce shortages for weeks to come as major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths face an unparalleled supply crisis.
Damning photos show how several Woolworths stores simply don't have any salad stock to put out on the shelves.
While cabbage has been touted as a makeshift substitute for lettuce in recent weeks, including by fast food giants KFC and Subway, there was none to be seen in several stores across NSW.
Major stores in Leichhardt, Queanbeyan and on Sydney's North Shore were pictured with no bags of salad or fresh lettuce
Woolworths’ website states several bagged items of spinach, rocket and kale are currently unavailable for online purchase.
The supermarket has warned customers it could be waiting six weeks for improved availability of herbs, while a similar time frame has been given for green beans.
"We’re still seeing challenges with lettuce and berry supply so while the new crops have been planted, it will take a few weeks for stocks to return to more stable levels," Woolworths general manager of fruit and vegetables Paul Turner said in a statement shared to Yahoo News Australia.
Mr Turner said there was also issues with the supply of several tomato varieties, zucchinis and broccolini.
Coles has admitted it too is facing "availability challenges", with Yahoo understanding its Marrickville store faced similar shelf replenishment issues on Monday.
Coles' Chief Operating Officer Matt Swindells warned earlier this month, like Woolworths, the supermarket giant would face shortages for weeks, but urged shoppers to instead opt for alternative fresh produce in stock.
Mr Turner said customers will have ample supply of apples, citrus, potatoes for them to purchase in the coming weeks.
Behaviour seen during Covid pandemic returning
Both supermarkets say devastating floods in Queensland and northern NSW earlier this year have led to the shortages while Mr Swindells told Channel Nine a colder-than-normal winter has led to a "double whammy".
Professor Jana Bowden, a consumer psychologist at the Macquarie University Business School, told Yahoo News Australia on Monday an element of panic buying had returned more than two years after it made headlines at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The fact that we can rationally and logically explain it through crop production challenges that we faced in Australia recently, underneath all of that is an underlying consumer fear about the situation," she said.
"Having had the experience of not being able to get a product before, and therefore the concern about when that might come back in stock."
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