EFFORTS are underway to speed-up border clearance of imported groceries during the coronavirus crisis, with the Australian government working with supermarkets and their brokers to bring about better outcomes.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment says it is placing “dedicated people” within its import assessment, bookings and inspection functions to enable faster clearance of critical supplies.

This has been developed via consultations with the major retailers as part of the Australian government’s Supermarkets Taskforce.

Head of biosecurity Lyn O’Connell said the department is completing inspections as quickly as possible.

“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.

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“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% of household consumption,” she said.

“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 and does not apply to other imports of goods, including by members of the public.

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