Food supply shortages have caused a number of Illawarra and South Coast businesses to close their doors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply chain, and the result is "a lockdown without the support," for some.
Hospitality owners, who did not wish to be named, said the combined pressures of staff and food shortages meant they were unable to open consistently, with some considering closing their doors for good.
Large supermarkets, such as Coles, Woolworths and ALDI continue to experience supply issues.
But Mahlah Grey, owner of Kiama dairy The Pines, said small producers were better able to manage the disruption.
"We do our own distribution, and we try to support other small producers ourselves," she said.
"So if we do a delivery to Sydney one day we might team up with other people who need to get product up there, and we pick things up to bring back down to the coast while we're there.
"It's always been difficult for smaller producers, there have always been supply chain issues for small businesses.
"We're used to finding solutions."
She said the breakdown in the food supply chain showed the weaknesses in the existing system.
"The pressure we're experiencing at the moment highlights why the networks and relationships between small producers are important," she said.
"Pooling our strengths and using what we can to support each other is a model we've been working on, so we're not as reliant on large companies.
"This highlights the need for more equitable food systems."
Coles has limited purchases of some items, including mince, chicken breasts, chicken thighs and sausages to two packets per customer (or six chicken fillets from the dairy) and rapid antigen tests to one per customer.
Woolworths have not yet limited purchases, but may have to in future.
Meat and poultry are also among their most affected stock.
A Coles spokesperson said they were hopeful new exemptions for essential workers who are close contacts of COVID cases would ease the situation.
"At a time when inventory levels were already reduced in the post-Christmas period, our distribution centres are receiving fewer inbound deliveries and we have fewer team members available to process and dispatch stock to our stores," they said.
"Meanwhile demand is elevated as customers choose to eat more meals at home to reduce their exposure to the rest of the community.
"The new measures, which are subject to stringent safety protocols including the use of rapid antigen testing, will support us to deliver more of the food and essentials our customers need to our stores across Australia.
"We thank our customers for their patience as we work with our suppliers and transport partners to increase deliveries and return a full range of products to our stores over coming weeks."
ALDI was approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.
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