PARILLA vegetable grower Mark Pye has had to put on extra staff and is now packing 20 hours a day, seven days a week to cover the increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Parilla Premium Potatoes and Zarella Fresh managing director said in the past two weeks, sales had increased more than 50 per cent for potatoes and 30-40pc for carrots and onions.
"Last week was absolutely crazy," he said.
"We could only manage half our orders to the supermarkets and merchants across Australia, but thankfully it has slowed this week.
"There is still good demand, but not quite as busy as late last week."
Mr Pye said they had hired 50 extra staff, to add to the 300 already employed across two shifts, and were packing every day of the week.
He said they will have to negotiate a modest price rise, possibly 10-15pc, to cover the added cost of operating, particularly on Sundays, and the extra sanitation required.
"There has been increased hygiene standards throughout the whole business, including offices and lunchrooms," he said.
"We are also distancing workers between shifts and cleaning in between shifts.
"We have also checked with our workers to ensure there has been no overseas travel or even interstate.
"Many have chosen to ride out the pandemic out here as Parilla and SA are safe places to be at the moment."
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Mr Pye didn't forsee any supply issues for at least the next month.
"But if this demand goes on for six to 12 months, then that could change," he said.
"We will still have supply, but not at the volumes that are required at the moment.
"We are considering a plant increase, maybe 15-20pc, but it is a risk if this strong demand doesn't continue, so we are weighing that up now with our customers.
"I think there will be extra demand, with more people cooking at home, but we just need to work out what percentage that will be."
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