While supermarket shelves lay bare, produce remains plentiful at the city's markets as local farmers work to keep residents fed.
Major furloughing has affected all levels of the supply chain causing a national shortage of produce available for purchase at supermarkets.
But independent retailers have emerged as a solution to the crisis.
Ben Pohlner of Volcano Produce, Illowa said the COVID pandemic had turned his business into a thriving lifeline for many.
"I think COVID brought home to everyone the importance of local producers - not relying on the big supermarkets all the time and we've seen a huge increase in the amount of product we've been able to sell," he said.
"It's been great for us, we've had so much support. Before COVID we were just having a crack and giving it a go to see what happens. We had just one stall at the Sunday Fresh Market but now we have three and soon we'll have four just to cater to the amount of produce people are buying and we're able to sell.
"It's definitely been increasing substantially."
He said restaurants were also purchasing more stock.
"We've seen restaurants wanting to buy more local produce and showcase it in their menu," he said.
"It's very much a case of us expanding and growing enough produce to meet the demand."
He said staff shortages had impacted his business but to a lesser extent.
"It certainly has been harder for us to get staff on the farm," he said.
"All the farmers around here, including spud and dairy farmers are just screaming out for help with workers. It's the same situation for us, but we're a family business so it doesn't impact us as much but we're looking for help with harvesting.
"We're just making sure we look after the staff we've got."
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Sunday Fresh Market regular Brendan Bouchier from Mortlake Butchers said many customers transitioned from supermarkets to independent retail at the start of the pandemic.
"I think the past few years when the panic buying began people started coming to retail shops which was a good thing," he said.
"With what we do here, we offer a superior product with our meat. We are targeted to people who want to enjoy what they're eating and all our products including lamb, beef and pork aren't imported."
Warrnambool mayor Richard Ziegeler said the region had some of the best produce nationally and now was the time to rally around small business.
"We all know that the best produce in Australia can be found right here in south-west Victoria," he said.
"Our region is already firmly on the map when it comes to meat and dairy products especially, but the story doesn't end there. If you head along to one of the many great local markets, you'll be able to see, smell and taste the amazing range of produce grown and made here in our region.
"Over the past two years, the community has embraced the Get Around Warrnambool message and rallied behind their favourite local businesses. Many people now have an emphasis on human connections and supporting local producers and crafters.
"When you can go to a market or a small business and have a conversation with the person who made the product you're holding in your hand - not only is this a great experience for you, you're supporting the local economy - and those products are amongst the best in the world."
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