Woolworths, Coles hit with chicken, pasta shortage as rising prices spark ‘panic’

Supermarkets are experiences shortages on several budget grocery items, as cash-strapped Australians snap up cheaper alternatives and leave expensive produce on shelves.

Chicken is currently proving very hard to come by in Victoria and NSW though there’s no reported supply chain issues.

Dried pasta is also in short supply in Melbourne with frustrated Aussies sharing photos of empty supermarket shelves, stating it was “all gone”.

News.com.au has contacted Coles and Woolworths.

But while freak weather events and supply chain issues have been behind previous product shortages including lettuce and chickpeas – experts are stating this latest situation has been caused by consumer “panic” amid rising grocery bills.

Emma Germano, president of the Victorian Farmers Federation, told 3AW Melbourne farmers have no shortage of chicken at their end but were seeing a change in consumer habits.

“Chicken meat farmers are saying their supply is still OK, they haven’t had any major issues,” she told the radio station.

“It could be a demand issue, caused by a bit of a rush on chickens because other proteins are expensive. We’re starting to see those shift in consumer patterns as to what they’re buying and chicken is very, very affordable.

“The same thing is happening with eggs as well, another cheap protein source, and the demand is creating disruption and shortages on the shelves.”

Germano also shut down a “rumour” Australian poultry supplies were being affected by a bird-flu epidemic affecting the UK and EU, instead suggesting supermarkets could be guilty of “price gouging tactics”.

“When we’re talking shortages and price of living, and even things like the interest rate rise yesterday, those little things are triggers for the supermarkets to be able to get away with a bit of price gouging, particularly when people get nervous and start to rush on products like chicken and eggs,” she said.

Social media users have been quick to take to Twitter and Facebook to air their frustrations at finding empty shelves in the pasta and poultry sections when grocery shopping.

One shopper said pasta was always “sold out” while another wrote: “Chicken shortage in Melbourne! KFC in panic. Pasta now?! Watch the panic now. Toilet paper insanity incoming.”

While one shared an image of a sign in a Coles store apologising for not having any roast chooks.

“Why am I just learning (the hard way) that there’s a nationwide chook shortage?” the Twitter user wrote.

Podcast host Jacqueline Felgate also shared a series of snaps submitted by her 230,000 followers which included a bare supermarket fridge section.

“I’ve been to five shops, both Coles and Woolies and our local butcher and all out of stock,” the follower wrote.

“They have said it is a supplier issue and they haven’t had deliveries for days so not sure what is going on.”

It comes after Coles and Woolworths shoppers flooded the retailer’s Facebook pages to complain about alleged “price hikes” – labelling it a “rip off”.

However, the sudden changes to advertised prices were the result of select items being dropped from its “dropped and locked” program which saw hundreds of grocery staples including cereal, meat, bread and toiletries slashed in October 2022.

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