A milk shortage has hit WA in the wake of fires in the South West, with many supermarket shelves running bare.
The shortage, caused by the temporary closure of the Harvey Fresh processing plant and milk being dumped due to road blocks, is expected to last for several days.
The State’s outlying regional areas are set to be hardest hit.
The lack of Harvey Fresh milk has caused a knock-on effect for other milk brand supplies, with customers dealing with a limited range of milk.
Harvey Fresh chief executive officer Paul Lorimer said he expected the milk shortage to be “a matter of days”, as opposed to weeks, with resupplies “varying from area to area”, depending on regional accessibility.
“We’re hoping the outages will be for minimal work days but that’s yet to be determined,” Mr Lorimer said.
“It’s going to vary from area to area, particularly in regards to accessibility in country areas.
“We’re supplying orders to all customers but we’re not able to fulfil all customer requirements as it currently stands,” he said.
The Waroona bushfire has been downgraded to an advice level, with firefighters continuing to mop up, patrol, strengthen containment lines and attack and contain any “hop-overs”.
In total, 169 properties have been confirmed lost — 128 houses and 41 other structures including sheds, caravans, bridges, community and commercial properties.
Harvey Fresh’s processing began to be impacted on Thursday as road blocks stopped milk tankers from reaching the company’s processing plant in Harvey.
When evacuation of Harvey commenced later that day, all processing was stopped to allow staff and their families to evacuate.
Road blocks also stopped tankers from reach dairy farms for several days, according to WA Farmers Federation. Milk-tanker drivers and dairy farmers were forced to dump milk onto roadsides and farms as a last resort until road were reopened.
Mr Lorimer said processing recommenced on Monday morning and milk tankers had full access to farms again to pick up milk and deliver to Harvey.
He said supply to customers started Monday night, with production ramping up on Tuesday and Wednesday.
He said that while some dairy farms had sustained damage to fences and paddocks, there were not reports of damage to milking equipment that he was aware of.
While Mr Lorimer did not expect the supply from farms to be impacted, he said the company was focused on the wellbeing of farmers who were dealing with the trauma of the fire.
“Their wellbeing is critical to us and we’ll be working with them closely to make sure they’re okay,” Mr Lorimer said.