Australians run out of chicken after Covid-19 ravages staff at country’s largest meat supplier
Chicken meat has become the latest victim of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, with empty shelves across Australia and KFC forced to cut its menu due to staff shortages at poultry supplier Ingham’s.
“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the eastern states of Australia from December 2021 and the resulting staff shortages now also have a significant impact on the Australian supply chain, operations, logistics. and the commercial performance of Ingham, and of some of its suppliers and customers,“Ingham said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on Tuesday. As a result, the company’s share price fell more than 6%.
Amid rising cases of Omicron infection among staff, Ingham had to cut back production amid “significantly lower levels of staff availability, impacting production volumes and operational efficiency.Staff shortages hit the processing plants the most, forcing Ingham’s to sell more whole chickens to its customers.
According to market sources, the Australian branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) – a popular fast food chain that bases its entire menu on chicken – is among Ingham’s biggest customers.
A KFC spokesperson confirmed to Guardian Australia that the channel was aware of “Nationwide supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19-related absenteeism at our chicken suppliers”, And stated that some of the restaurants will not be able to offer their full menu in the coming weeks. Additionally, local media reported empty shelves in the chicken sections of some grocery stores.
Chicken is popular around the world for being the cheapest meat on the market. According to figures from the Guardian, it costs on average 5.43 AUS (US $ 3.90) per kilogram in Australia, less than half the price of pork and beef. Industry statistics show chicken to be Australia’s most popular meat, with locals eating nearly 47 kilograms of chicken each year.
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