Gloucester's Avon Valley Meats working hard to keep up with COVID demand

Doug Doolan, Dave Fraser and Beau Holden has been flat out trying to keep up with demand at Avon Valley Meats. Photo Anne Keen
Doug Doolan, Dave Fraser and Beau Holden has been flat out trying to keep up with demand at Avon Valley Meats. Photo Anne Keen

When the first wave of COVID hit, Gloucester wasn't immune to the panic buying witnessed around the country, and for business owner Dave Fraser, it was a challenge to keep up with demand.

"We couldn't cut meat fast enough," Dave said.

Being the only butchery in town, Avon Valley Meats saw in influx of customers.

And it wasn't just Gloucester region resident, people were calling up from Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle trying to get their hands on meat.

"When COVID started, people started panic buying. We were flat chat," Dave explained.

Being classified as an essential service, there was no pondering whether or not to close the doors.

And it's a good thing, because it wasn't just retail customers looking to stock up.

"Two butchers from Newcastle rang up looking for meat.

"No one was prepared for this," he said.

In the 15 years he's owned the business, this is the most consecutive period Dave's experience.

In normal circumstances, the business would see a run of busy times, like over Christmas and Easter, but never lasting this long.

"People couldn't eat out or go to the raffles, so people started eating meat at home," Dave explained.

In March, the business was selling as much meat in one week as it would in three weeks.

They even had to increase their trips to the Wingham abattoir in an effort to pick up whatever was on offer.

"We've been one of the luckiest businesses in town," Dave said.

And given the past year or so of tough times through drought, it's a welcome relief.

Fortunately, the increase of customers has continued beyond the panic buying and the business is managing a good continued flow.

Things that dropped off during the lockdown, like supply to local businesses, has started to pick up again.

According to Dave, many farms stays and accommodation places around the region that provide hampers for their guests are booked out until November.

"The whole town is absolutely firing," Dave said.