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Don’t panic: chocolate biscuit supplies at risk due to coronavirus

Coronavirus is on the verge of a global epidemic and all we can cry about are biscuits? Correct.

In the heat of the virus’ outbreak, factories that have paused operation in China are putting Australia’s supply of packaged foods at risk.

Empty shelves at Coles, coronavirus
Image: ABC News

Chinese packaging factories have ceased operation in the outbreak of coronavirus and biscuit enthusiasts are fearful of potential shortages.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the primary material used to produce biscuit trays and other packaged pantry items. 30 per cent of global PET production originates in China, with another 21 per cent manufactured in other areas of Asia.

Ritchies Supa IGA chief executive Fred Harrison warns that if things continue, our supply of packaged food could be in danger.

“I don’t think we want another week or two of this,” he told Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’re very resilient, Aussies tend to find a way, but I would think definitely there would be some holes appearing in production of products if this is still the same in three weeks’ time.”

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The report comes in response to shoppers stockpiling pantry items in the case of an epidemic. Woolworths and Coles confirmed an increased demand over the weekend but reassured customers that distribution centres had high stock levels and were working to restock shelves as necessary.

Although Australia relies heavily on Chinese-supplied packaging, Mr Harrison doubts any food shortages would result in a need to stockpile as fresh produce would still be available.

*Imagine* having to rely on fruit and vegetables for sustenance, source our food locally, and use less packaging – it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

One Arnott’s spokesperson said the company sources most of its packaging within Australia and there was “no current disruption to our supply.” The company will keep a close eye on the situation.

So there you have it. You don’t need twelve multi-packs of double coated Tim Tams stashed in your kitchen cupboard. Ten should suffice.