‘Completely bare’: Why Woolies shelves have been wiped clean

Woolies shelves have been stripped bare in parts of the country as the supermarket grapples with major operational issues at multiple distribution centres.

Multiple Woolworths stores in Queensland have been affected by the warehousing issues, resulting in low-to-no stock across multiple fresh produce ranges, including milk, poultry and fruit.

But while the supermarket giant told news.com.au it is working hard to “resume normal operations as quickly as possible”, shoppers have aired their frustrations at the “apocalyptic” scenes in their local store.

“Woolies is empty. This is a disgrace it is,” one frustrated Australian wrote on X, formerly Twitter, alongside several photos showing hardly any fresh veggies left at their local store.

“Not sure what is happening with Woolies but empty shelves happening in both Woolies Banyo and Woolies Nundah,” another shared.

Another said: “A trip to Woolies yesterday afternoon had me wondering why the shelves are practically empty…. The bread aisle was empty, the only gluten free bread I found was out of date and stale.”

Queensland shoppers were reporting similar discoveries at Woolworths on Facebook, with one labelling it “apocalyptic”.

“Woolworths Richlands had basically nothing left in terms of vegetables, fruit and deli meats,” one shared.

“Have been noticing reduced options in and around Moreton Bay region,” someone else added.

And one woman wrote: “No fresh chicken pieces, very little milk at Logan Hyperdome [Woolies] on Friday. Notices up apologising for lack of stock due to supply issues.”

One resident on the Gold Coast said her local supermarket was “completely bare”.

ABC News Brisbane said it had received reports of “bare fruit, vegetable and bread shelves at Woolworths across Brisbane, from Nundah to Coorparoo”.

In some places its so bad, it has even been likened to the constantly empty shelves endured during the pandemic.

“This is giving March 2020 vibes,” one concerned shopper declared.

“My Woolies was bare yesterday. I thought I must have been the only one who didn’t know the pandemic was back,” mused someone else.

“Guess we’re all going to Coles,” chipped in another.

News.com.au understands Coles hasn’t been impacted by the supply issues faced by Woolworths. There are also no product limits in place.

It comes after an electrochemical engineer from the University of Newcastle Shoppers explained why there has been a shortage of soft drinks in major supermarkets recently.

Dr Jess Allen explained on TikTok Australia is “actually running low on carbon dioxide, which is the main ingredient to make a carbonated beverage”.

She then explained NSW is “one of the main suppliers of food grade carbon dioxide”, a common by-product of the ammonia manufacturing process, but an unplanned outage at the The Orica ammonia manufacturing plant on Kooragang Island in Newcastle had halted the production of CO2 and creating shortages for food and drink products.

Coles and Woolworths customers reported seeing empty shelves in the soft drink aisle at stores with home brand beverages, and small suppliers like Diet Rite and La Ice cola were all in short supply too.

One of the nation’s two major carbon dioxide suppliers, British multinational BOC, said the issue has been resolved and full supply had been restored.

“BOC is committed to increasing long-term carbon dioxide reliability and supply for our customers,” the company said.

A new production facility is nearing completion in Longford, Victoria with the capacity to produce about 60,000 tonnes per annum of beverage-grade liquid carbon dioxide. It is expected to be operational later this year.

However, the other major supplier, French group Air Liquide, said “the nation’s CO2 situation remains tight” and there were source availability issues in Victoria.

“Air Liquide continues to monitor and manage its storage and supply chain for its customers with a view to minimising the impact to its customers,” the company said.

The carbon dioxide supply is not just a problem for soft drink production, as it’s also a key ingredient in sparkling wine and beer and is used in the cooling of packaged meat and in hospitals.

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