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Losing your noodle

PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COMPet food stocks have been hit throughout the pandemic.

Big gaps appearing on supermarket shelves as shortages bite
A taste of things to come

With omicron already creating gaps on New Zealand’s supermarket shelves, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may cause further shortages of staple items in the weeks ahead.

Both Russia and Ukraine were major exporters of cereals, including wheat, and experts said their conflict could threaten the global food supply.

According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Russia exported almost 20 per cent of the world’s wheat in 2020, with a value of $10.1 billion. Ukraine exported $4.61b, making it the fifth-largest exporter of wheat globally.

“With the invasion, cereal exports from Ukraine will virtually stop, and financial sanctions will likely affect exports from Russia, threatening food security worldwide,” economist Gilberto Garcia said.

Fresh Choice Greytown owner Chris Ward said that the Russia-Ukraine conflict could affect the supply of products made from wheat.

New Zealand’s supply of noodles may be affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

“There is going to be a noodle shortage,” Ward said.

He said that other supply chain issues had not improved in recent weeks.

“It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.

“We’re limited in what we can order, there are still massive out-of-stocks in supply chains, and the issue in Ukraine and Russia is going to start biting soon.”

The World Instant Noodles Association said that New Zealand consumed about 90 million servings of instant noodles in 2020 – equal to France, which had a population about 13 times greater.


Woolworths NZ – the parent company of Countdown, Fresh Choice, and Supervalue stores – said their supply partners had not yet indicated any issues bringing noodle products into New Zealand.

The spokesperson said that about 1700 of the company’s workforce of 21,000 were isolating as a positive case or household contact.

“With fewer people working right across the supply chain, including those of our suppliers, we are still seeing a few impacts on our shelves – including in our Masterton store.

“We are seeing the situation start to improve with people returning to work.”

Pet food stocks have been hit throughout the pandemic.

Aside from the potential noodle shortage, Ward said that pet food stocks had been impacted.

He said that there were multiple factors behind any product shortage but said panic buying could contribute.

“People go and stock up on stuff, and strip the shelves of everything they think is essential.”

Ward said global staffing issues had affected the supply of products to supermarkets.

“Everyone’s got staffing shortages, so they can’t manufacture the products.”

Ward said that distribution centres set limits on the volume of items – measured in cartons – that supermarkets could order.

He said the carton limit could cut an order down by about 50 per cent. Once out-of-stock items were taken into account, an order could reduce even further.

“For example, we want 2000 cartons, but we’re only allowed to order 1000. So, you place an order for 1000, and by the time the out-of-stocks have swept through, we get 500.”

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