COVID-19: Supermarkets were holding more stock in NZ in case of lockdown, ready for increased demand

Supermarkets are being thumped as demand increases exponentially with the announcement of New Zealand's new community COVID-19 case, but Foodstuff says, unlike last lockdown, they are prepared.

Kiwis flocked to grocery stores around the country on Tuesday afternoon and into the night when the Ministry of Health announced an Auckland man in his 50s had tested positive for coronavirus and the country would go into alert level four lockdown.

Photos showed empty shelves and queues snaking around car parks, entrances and aisles and a fight broke out over supplies at Pak'nSave in Clendon Park, Manurewa.

Chris Quin, the North Island CEO Foodstuffs - which supplies New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square supermarkets - told The AM Show on Wednesday that "old habits die hard".

"The targeted things yesterday were the favourites; the toilet paper, the flour, the sugar, the pasta.  

"We saw an evening with about 50 percent increased demand."

Quin said shelves may have been emptied but they haven't run out of anything yet because supermarkets have been prepared for any potential lockdowns and the chaos of panic buying.

"We are not low on anything at this point. Certainly, people are seeing shelves which were being emptied through the night last night but teams would have been replenishing. We have a big day today for our team in our warehouses and in our stores to make sure we get them full again. 

"As has been talked about the global freight and supply chain has been more stressed in the year since this [lockdown] happened last time and we are holding more stock in New Zealand than we have before because we have tried to be prepared for this. If people will just shop normally we will be able to make this work."

In a statement to Newshub on Tuesday evening, Countdown general manager of corporate affairs Kiri Hannifin asked customers to "keep calm and kind".

"We know this is unnerving news for everyone, but we are well-practiced at shopping safely during alert level changes and we can do it again."

Countdown and Foodstuffs are both asking customers to wear a mask in-store and use the COVID Tracer app as they come in.