Helping supermarkets down the import aisle

8 April 2020

The Australian Government is working with the supermarkets and their brokers to fast-track border clearance of imported groceries during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is placing dedicated people within its import assessment, bookings and inspection functions to enable critical supplies to be cleared faster without deviating from our strict biosecurity and imported food controls.

This has been developed through close consultations with the major retailers as part of the Australian Government’s Supermarkets Taskforce.

Head of biosecurity Lyn O’Connell PSM said the department is completing inspections as quickly as possible whilst meeting requirements under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

“Dedicated staff will prioritise these applications so we can get product on the shelves quicker to complement Australia’s supply of quality fresh food produced from all parts of the country,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Streamlining the import processes for items such as frozen processed foods would help ensure supermarkets are fully stocked.

“While Australia is a major food producer, and much of what we eat is home grown, imported food accounts for about 16 per cent of household consumption.

“This includes highly processed fruit and vegetables, chocolate, coffee, pasta and rice – some of which are in high demand at the moment.”

The streamlined process only applies to imports of groceries by supermarkets. It does not apply to other imports of goods, including by members of the public.

Everyone must follow Australia’s biosecurity conditions when importing goods. For more information on these conditions, visit awe.gov.au/import.