Shoppers stockpiling goods amid the latest Delta outbreak are placing further pressure on the supply chain in the lead-up to Christmas, supermarkets say.
Foodstuffs and Countdown told NZME they are prepared for the rush and
their supply chains were ''reliable and robust'' but customers who continued to stockpile goods would cause others to miss out.
Foodstuffs New Zealand corporate affairs manager Emma Wooster said the past 18 months it proved its supply chain was ''reliable and robust''.
''We're confident we have a good supply of products continuously arriving to our stores nationwide but from time to time, there have been some intermittent delays on some goods due to the knock-on effects of Covid.''
Wooster said the pressure on the supply chain tended to come when ''customers buy more than they need so we encourage everyone to continue to shop normal and only purchase what they need''.
Factors, like product demand, seasonality and if the product was on or off special or promotion had played a role in managing the flow of goods into stores.
The impact of Covid added complexities to the process, including an exponential rise in commodity, fuel and power prices worldwide, an international shipping crisis and a skills shortage in New Zealand, Wooster said.
A Countdown spokesperson said a few ''ups and downs" in the availability of some imported products, such as cat food, would continue.
There were no restrictions on products but there were global sea freight challenges, increased wait times and costs.
Covid had created huge demand and Countdown was working with its suppliers and supply chain partners to mitigate the impacts.
It wanted to encourage customers to only buy what they need to make sure there's plenty for everyone.
''We've worked really hard over the last few months to make sure we're well-prepared for Christmas.''
Maxine Paterson, who founded the Facebook page What's on Special this week in Tauranga, said she had noticed ''heaps'' of her favourite goods missing from shelves in the supermarket.
''It's quite a bit actually. I couldn't get the 1kg of Pam's smooth peanut butter anywhere in town.''
Her five cats were also dining out on expensive fare as some pet food was out of stock.
''I'm having to pay extra for my cat food and I'm also having to buy rice bran oil which is costing more as well.''
She felt for people who were financially strapped. In her view, the alternatives on offer were more expensive.
''They are not going to have much of a choice.''
Meanwhile, Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe said increasing food costs were putting extra pressure on already ''very stretched budgets'' for households.
The price of rentals and power had also gone up.
McCombe said the service suggested an outlay of $80 per adult per week for food, but often that was not possible and many clients worked on $50.
Rotorua Budget Advisory Service manager Pakanui Tuhura said ''the stress and worry'' of putting food on the table could cause ''relationships to break down''.
In other cases, householders pulled together and relied on family and friends to supplement their food.
Some people were struggling to get basic food items and had become creative cooks.
Figures from Stats NZ show on year-to-year comparison, food prices increased by 3.7 per cent last month due to higher prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up 5 per cent), fruit and vegetables (up 9 per cent) and grocery food (up 3.1 per cent).
However, compared to September, food prices fell for the first time since February, although consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said prices were up for kiwifruit (41 per cent), broccoli (9.8 per cent) and carrots (9.5 per cent).
Horticulture New Zealand communications and channels manager Andrew Bristol said most of the fruit New Zealand grows was for export and most of the vegetables were for domestic consumption.
He said it has been a good growing season for fruit this year and they were expecting high yields.