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Meat is the new toilet paper

Saturday, 21st March, 2020

Top End Meat’s Rob Moroney (left) with Shayne Hunter and a lot of empty trays yesterday morning. PICTURE: Craig Brealey Top End Meat’s Rob Moroney (left) with Shayne Hunter and a lot of empty trays yesterday morning. PICTURE: Craig Brealey

By Craig Brealey

Like a swarm of ants, panic buyers are sweeping through the shops and scurrying home to hoard their bounty.

We know what has been happening in the supermarkets and this week they sniffed out the butcher shops in town.

Before the raid they bought up all the deep freezers in readiness for the end of the world, presuming perhaps that they’d have the appetite for a monster feed on doomsday.

Rob Moroney who owns Top End Meat in Argent Street said it had been a mad week.

“It’s absolutely crazy,” Mr Moroney said yesterday.

“It started on Monday when Coles and Woolies announced that people could only buy one or two items.”

Strangers were turning up early and depriving his loyal and laid-back customers of their favourite cuts, Mr Moroney said. 

The till had never been busier, he said, but it would not last.

“We’ve turned over about $98,000 of stock this week.

“We’ve been trying to ring wholesalers this morning for supplies next week.” Three big wholesealers have shut because they don’t have any stock, Mr Moroney said.

“There are only four in Adelaide so we’ll be limited to whatever we can get for about three weeks until their stock gets back up.

“One wholesaler sold $48 million worth of stock on Monday.”

Mr Moroney said Top End Meat supplied about 75 businesses in Broken Hill and district, from the Corner Country down to Menindee.

“We are really struggling and will be for the next two or three weeks,” he said.

At the other end of Argent Street, Darryl Whitelaw, the owner of Broken Hill Meat, said he’d been “flat out”.

“It’s pretty busy. Everyone seems to think it’s the end of the world,” said Mr Whitelaw. 

“We’re flat out with general customers but the cafes and that are quietening down a bit because fewer people are dining out.”

He said he was alerted by a wholesaler last week to what was coming and had ordered extra.

“I got triple the amount and more coming in tomorrow, but the price is going up because they’re all fighting over it.”

The local Harvey Norman store was this week stripped of its deep freezers and has only four bar fridge-size ones left.

A store spokeswoman said the frenzy was prompted by the announcement from Coles and Woolworths on Monday.

“That set people off,” the spokeswoman told the BDT.

“In one day we sold more than 20 deep freezers and the next day we had people at the door first thing in the morning,” she said.

“We’ve had phone calls asking us to hold freezers, which we can’t do even if we had them.”

Whitegoods stores throughout the nation were running out of them because they came mainly from China which has shut up shop.

“China closed it borders nine weeks before Australia closed ours so we were already restricted to what we had in stock,” she said.

Some people just needed to chill out about freezers, said the spokeswoman.

“People don’t even care about the size or how much they cost; they just want them. Even some station owners who have chiller rooms want them. It’s a freak out.

“It’s all just silly, too much panic. I think people should turn off the news.”

They might also pray that the power blackouts don’t last too long.

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