Shoppers are being warned to expect fewer options than usual in the big supermarkets this week – and into the next few weeks – as Woolworths and Coles experience logistical issues with more and more staff isolating, or otherwise absent, due to Covid-19.

“We’re currently experiencing delays with some stock deliveries to our stores due to the impacts of Covid-19 across the food and grocery supply chain,” says Woolworths in a statement. “As a result, our stores may have reduced availability of some products at points throughout the day before they receive their next delivery.”

Fresh fruit and veggies are the most impacted, with poultry and some other meat products also affected. There isn’t a shortage of produce, but with staff in distribution centres in the Greater Sydney region – plus delivery drivers and other store staff – off sick or isolating, there are major delays in getting food and groceries on the shelves.

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The most impacted stores are in New South Wales, where 169,718 Covid-19 cases have been reported so far this week. Delivery delays are contributing to the availability of products in Queensland and parts of South Australia too.

Other states are advised that, although they’re not experiencing the same level of disruption, some meat products may be in reduced supply up until the end of January.

“Deliveries continue to arrive daily and we’re doing all we can with our suppliers to restock our shelves as quickly as possible, with a particular focus on fresh food and essentials lines,” said the Woolworths spokesperson. “We expect to see availability improve over the coming weeks.”

A spokesperson for Coles confirmed the company is “also seeing an increased number of team members being required to isolate due to household exposure to Covid-19 while they wait for test results”.

They said management will continue to monitor team-member availability across the business, and is working with suppliers and other stakeholders to address a number of supply chain issues, including availability of shipping pallets and transport capacity.

“We apologise to our customers if an item they wish to purchase is unavailable when they do their shopping, and our team are working hard to replenish our shelves as quickly as possible,” says the Coles spokesperson. The advice from supermarkets is not to panic. While you might not find the exact item or brand you were looking for in-store, Woolworths confirmed alternative options were available.

“While there are more gaps on our shelves than usual, we have enough stock coming through our network for customers to do a family shop,” said Woolworths. “We know this is frustrating and thank our customers for their patience. As always, we ask customers to be mindful of others in their community and buy only what they need.”

Both supermarket chains are prioritising essential food and drink items, as well as stocking rapid antigen tests, which are in short supply nationwide.