How businesses are surviving amidst the chaos of Covid-19

It’s no doubt that these are challenging and uncertain times for Australia’s businesses and workforce. The coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe means employers are needing to make significant adjustments based on new government safety regulations and health recommendations which are often changing on a daily, sometimes even hourly, basis.

While health and wellbeing is certainly at the heart of the population’s fear, news and social media coverage highlighting the economic outlook is also causing panic. However, while the future is certainly unclear for many organisations and employees, there are a handful of industries that are uniquely in demand, while others are adapting to address needs in this unprecedented situation.

As Australia moves into stage three lockdown, Bayside Group takes a closer look into the food and beverage manufacturing, agriculture, horticulture and the wine sectors, to see how they are faring in these unique times.

Coronavirus is changing the way we eat and shop

By now, most people will have seen videos and photos of empty supermarket shelves on the nightly news or their social media feeds. The fear generated by the pandemic has resulted in a wave of panic buying sweep through the nation, seeing people stockpile pantry essentials for fear they will be forced into quarantine. This has seen a spike in sales for food manufacturers of non-perishable goods, such as tinned food, rice and pasta.

Alen Skaro who manages leading science and technology recruitment agency, Techstaff, says that while the food and beverage manufacturing industry has indeed been effected by the closure of restaurants, bars and clubs, it is holding steady due to the uplift in other areas.

“You can see how big the demand is when you walk into our supermarkets”, Alen says. “People are stockpiling, which has created a need from manufacturers and distributers to push products out to the market at an extremely high rate.”

“Many venues have had to shut their doors temporarily, so people’s eating habits have changed and they are cooking from home a lot more. Canned goods, non-perishables, bottled food – the demand for these products is keeping the industry steady, providing stability for the workforce.

Shifting gears

According to Alen, many companies within the food and beverage industry are shifting gears, changing up their product range to be able to provide for the demand of certain items to cover drop-off in other areas.

For example, there are many reports of beverage companies, breweries and distilleries creating and distributing hand sanitiser, as need for this particular hygiene product reaches an all-time high.

“We’re seeing organisations switching the way they work”, says Alen. “The manufacturing industry is starting to adapt and change its model so it can still profit during this difficult time. It’s about being agile and being able to find the gaps in the market and then cater to these.”

Workforce opportunities

Despite many in the workforce being negatively impacted by the pandemic, National Manager CozWine, Ed Milne, says the need for workers in certain spaces, particularly agriculture and harvesting, has in fact experienced an upturn.

“We’ve definitely seen an uplift in work and available shifts in agriculture, as companies are wanting more employees on board to complete the processing faster,” he says. “Many of these crops need to be processed before it becomes too wet, and moving into winter it is essential to get this done quickly.” 

This necessity is resulting in greater demand for staff, as companies try to complete as much work as possible in a shorter period of time.

Another area that Ed says will likely experience greater demand for employees is within the harvesting space, as the workforce in regional parts of the country have been severely restricted due to travel bans.

In Australia, Harvest Trail Work sees backpackers working in regional areas to assist farmers with their harvest. Due to the current restrictions on travel, Ed says there are only a small number of backpackers remaining in Australia to employ, creating a large gap in the workforce. This presents an opportunity for those who are currently seeking work.

“There will be plenty of opportunities for those who are willing to work in regional parts of the country to assist farmers with their harvest, as the need for employees will be great,” he says.

“For example, in Griffith alone, the contingent backpacker workforce numbers in the thousands each day, so there’s a massive task ahead of Australians to get the harvest done this year.”

While there is indeed a great deal of uncertainty amongst both employers and employees currently, the food, beverage and agriculture industries are managing to remain stable and, in some cases, even profitable. Classed by the government as “essentials”, food and beverage products – along with their harvesting, processing and manufacturing – will continue to be in demand, making it more likely that warehouses, plants and factories producing these goods remain open and operational in some capacity, subject to sufficient protections being in place for workers.

If you are currently looking for work, you can search the Bayside Group’s available roles through our job board. If you are an employer currently seeking talent, get in touch with us today and speak to one of our professional Consultants.