Supermarkets and farmers call for calm and say no need to fear food shortages

Frenzied panic buying, aisles of empty shelves and mass crowds at checkouts have been all too common sites in supermarkets across the country.

As people try and stock up on supplies should they need to self-isolate at home for two weeks in the wake of coronavirus, supermarkets have been pleading for calm from shoppers.

It comes as a joint message from the heads of Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA on Wednesday, who urged shoppers to be considerate and buy only what people need and not to abuse staff.

Farmers are also reassuring consumers there is no need to fear food shortages in Australia as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

NSW Farmers' Vice President, Cowra's Chris Groves said farmers in NSW and across the country are busy doing what they do best - producing local food and fibre.

NSW Farmers Association vice president Chris Groves.

NSW Farmers Association vice president Chris Groves.

"The hens are still laying eggs, the dairy cows are still being milked, grain growers are preparing winter crops, orchards are still bearing fruit and Australian farmers are still producing the world's best produce," he said.

"This unprecedented event will have an impact on our export markets, which take around 75 per cent of what farmers produce, but Australians can be assured that there will be more than enough food for them.

"We don't rely on any other country to feed us.

"We want consumers to keep in mind both rice and wheat are grown here in NSW along with the vast majority of our fruit and vegetables.

"There's no need to panic if there's no rice or pasta on supermarket shelves.

"The drought is still lingering and farmers are recovering from bushfires, but fresh food items likes apples and bananas are being picked now and the livestock sector is maintaining supply.

"It's incumbent on supermarkets to work closely with farmers to ensure readily available produce at this time," Mr Groves said.

From Wednesday, Woolworths has enacted limits on almost all items that customers can purchase.

Coles also has limits in place on stock customers can purchase.

From Wednesday, trading hours at all Woolworths and Coles stores have been changed with stores closing early at 8pm until further notice.

The measures have been made for staff to restock shelves.

Online pick up and delivery services have been suspended until further notice.

And both have implemented a dedicated hour of shopping for seniors and those with a disability.

Parkes has four supermarkets in town, with the inclusion of Cunningham's IGA and Aldi.

Though the Parkes Aldi store has been temporarily closed since March 3 due to refurbishments and its trading absence has no doubt put pressure on supply at remaining supermarkets.

The refurbished store is expected to reopen this week.

Check out our live blog for Western NSW to keep our readers up-to-date with the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from across the region.

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