Preparing for Omicron and protecting our communities in 2022
Thursday, 20 January 2022
Thanks to our committed team of 37,000, our experience, planning and contingency processes, integrated end-to-end supply chain - and with the continued support from our supplier partners and customers – we’ve been working to be ready to continue to support New Zealanders with their essential food and groceries in the event the COVID-19 Omicron variant becomes prevalent in our communities.
Keeping our customers and team members safe, while making sure there’s a constant supply of essentials continues to be our priority. While it’s not possible to exactly predict how Omicron will behave if it takes a hold in NZ, we’ve had the benefit of seeing and learning how the variant has impacted supply chains overseas, as well as this we are able to manage our supply chain end-to-end. This puts us in a strong position to prepare for, and protect ourselves, from this particularly transmissible variant of the virus.
As the pandemic evolves, we’re constantly reviewing our plans and operating procedures in response to COVID-19. These were put to the test when Delta arrived in August 2021 when large numbers of store teams were required to self-isolate in Auckland. Despite having a significant proportion of our people isolating for the right time to keep everyone safe, but thanks to the resilience of our co-operative network and integrated supply chain, we were able to keep the doors of all our PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square stores open to customers throughout Aotearoa.
Our locally owned and operated stores and distribution teams are continuing to follow the protocols designed to keep our teams and customers safe from COVID-19. These include increased hygiene and cleaning measures, mask wearing, physical distancing, distribution centre and transport teams take regular rapid antigen tests (RAT). We also supported our teams to have easy access to vaccinations.
As you’d expect, we’ve recently reviewed our plans and operating procedures with the arrival of Omicron in mind, and while we have reactive plans and actions ready to go, what’s also incredibly important is we continue our vigilance with all the existing protocols we already have in our COVID-19 protection toolbox every day.
To help us do this, we ask customers to continue to play their part by wearing masks when they’re in-store (unless they’re exempt) and making sure they scan, or sign in every time they shop with us and ensuring physical distancing is maintained when they’re at the store. As supermarkets are an essential service, customers don’t need to be vaccinated to shop in our stores.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve proved our supply chain is extremely robust and as the pandemic brings us new challenges, we’re constantly working on and introducing new ways to continue to strengthen it. Our supply chain is fully integrated, which means we manage the flow of products from end-to-end, from the international or local source of supply, direct to stacking of our shelves.
We ask customers to continue to put their trust in us, and our integrated supply chain, and shop normally, as gaps on the shelves and queues at the supermarket can be caused by buying more than is needed. Customers may start to see limits to the number of certain products in any one shop, this is to ensure there is a consistent flow of product onto the shelves and fair opportunity of product for all of our customers.
One of the effects of COVID-19 is the global supply chain has been lumpy and unfortunately we expect this to continue throughout 2022. Our teams and supplier partners work hard behind the scenes to smooth out supply and provide alternatives and our buying teams are purchasing bigger quantities of long shelf-life imported goods, storing them in our network of local Distribution Centres, so they are on shore and on hand, if there is an unexpected uptick in demand.
Delivery and Click & Collect* continue to be options for North Island and Christchurch based customers and we’ve expedited the roll out of this service in South Island throughout our South Island store networks in 2022.
Foodstuffs has served New Zealanders for 100 years and we’re grateful for the privilege to continue throughout what’s turned out to be an extraordinary time in our lives. While we’re hoping for a better 2022 for all of us, our 100% New Zealand owned and operated co-ops are planning to keep on providing New Zealanders with great value and choice whatever the pandemic, or life, throws at us this year and beyond.
Let’s work together and #shopnormal and we’ll get through this.
*check website for availability at your local store.