Australia Post backflips on decision to cease delivering perishable food

Milawa Cheese can now continue to be delivered following the decision.
Milawa Cheese can now continue to be delivered following the decision.  Photo: Jason Robins

On Sunday, Good Food reported that Australia Post had given just three months' notice to farmers and food producers that the taxpayer-owned postal service was no longer going to handle perishable food.

By Thursday, that decision had been reversed. 

Producers of dairy, smallgoods, fruit and vegetables were informed on March 29 of  Australia Post's decision to cease delivery on June 30. This would have left some producers, especially those in remote and regional Australia, unable to deliver their food to restaurants, shops and homes around the nation.

Announcing the decision to stop delivering perishables, Australia Post told producers: "Due to the complex food safety requirements differing across states and territories, Australia Post will discontinue the carriage of certain foods destined for consumption across the delivery network from June 30, 2021 for a small number of customers."

Incensed customers, including buttermakers, egg producers and truffle farmers, approached the media, lobbied their local federal members, and penned petitions. Some had been actively courted by Australia Post to use its delivery network through the Australia Post-owned Farmhouse Direct online sales platform.

On Thursday morning, Australia Post announced it would continue to deliver perishable foods around the nation. In the statement, Australia Post acting group CEO and managing director Rodney Boys stated: "We recognise the original date for ceasing perishable transport through our network would cause significant disruption to small businesses, many who have experienced significant growth in eCommerce sales during COVID-19."

Pepa Saya butter company owner Pierre Issa and partner Melissa Altman were facing major delivery challenges.
Pepa Saya butter company owner Pierre Issa and partner Melissa Altman were facing major delivery challenges.  Photo: Sam Mooy

Australia Post also stated that it would be working with Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson "to resolve cross-state regulatory issues as part of Australia Post's commitment to support producers shipping perishable goods across the country".

Ceridwen Brown, from north-east Victorian family cheesemaker Milawa Cheese, a company that turned to postal deliveries during COVID lockdown, said: "The media is describing this as a backflip – we are cartwheeling with happiness."