The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the supply of imported building products in Australia.

Local EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) manufacturer Foamex has recently won a sizeable contract because its Chinese competitor couldn’t deliver in the required time frame.

Justin Kelsey, General Manager at Foamex, Australia’s only manufacturer of XPS, says the Australian construction industry is very price-driven, but notes that the COVID-19 pandemic is shining a spotlight on the importance of having a trusted supply chain that can deliver on time.
“We originally quoted on a large project in Queensland to build a distribution centre for a major food retailer, and we didn’t win the job in the first instance,” said Kelsey. “But when they couldn’t get the overseas product in time, they came back to us and we’re now their supplier. This is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic but the issue is bigger than just the current situation.
“A lot of companies will be looking at their supply chain reliability as a result of the current crisis and we hope that we’ll gain more customers as a result.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began about six weeks ago, Foamex has experienced a spike in sales, from not only the construction industry but also for food packaging and medical supply packaging. To handle the extra work Foamex is employing more casual labour and increasing its capacity.
“The building and construction industry, in particular, is ramping up as if they expect some sort of shutdown. We’re certainly quoting more, and delivering more. We expect there will be a slowdown in building, particularly the residential sector later this year due to unemployment rising and other knock-on effects from the COVID pandemic.
“There are lots of people talking about the Australian manufacturing sector and how we are too reliant on overseas manufacturing, particularly China, and perhaps this crisis will lead to some changes in the market,” said Kelsey.
Foamex has been in business for 30 years and employs about 175 people manufacturing polystyrene products in five states.