RIVERINA producers have been left high and dry after Australia Post revealed it would pull the plug on delivering perishable goods.
On Monday Australia Post announced it would no longer deliver products such as dairy (including cheese and truffles), native bush ingredients and smallgoods from June 30.
Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory general manager Rhiannon Druce said the ban would rock many regional and rural businesses.
Ms Druce said the timing could not be worse after businesses had already reinvented themselves owing to the global pandemic.
"Online sales have skyrocketed since COVID and we are based in an isolated regional town so we rely heavily on Australia Post to deliver our online sales to our customers," she said.
"Regional businesses will suffer the most from this decision as there is often no alternative to Australia Post as it will pick up and deliver from anywhere in the country."
Wahgunyah small business operator Louisa Morris said she was unable to get clarity on how the bans applied to her line of baked goods and jams.
Using Australia Post express post services for a decade, Ms Morris said her online trade had grown to 70 per cent of her business over the pandemic.
"We just need more clarity and it would be awesome if someone would fill the gap in the market left by this decision especially where there are no alternatives," she said.
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Ms Druce said she was unable to get clarity on whether chocolate was exempt.
She said the Junee factory had its biggest Easter on record this year as Australians shopped local.
They put on three permanent online sales staff, packing 2000 parcels in the month before Easter.
"This could ruin online sales for us," Ms Druce said.
"Chocolate has a longer shelf life than some perishables. We need more clarification on the ban and an alternative for postage."
Ms Druce said rural businesses had stepped up to the plate amid the global pandemic over 14 months.
"With everything that COVID brought to us, a lot of rural businesses had to adjust," she said.
"Twelve months ago we were completely bamboozled when we had all of this chocolate and nobody turning up on our doorstep.
"We had to focus on online sales and we worked hard to get that job done. It's one step forward, two steps back."
Australia Post defined perishable items as those needing temperature control during transportation.
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