Claims have arisen that buying behaviour from the government-backed 'Outback Stores' chain is leaving some remote shops unable to access essential items for their communities.
Outback Stores, which is a wholly government-owned entity, has spent $1.9 million across two payments to address supply-chain uncertainties for its remote locations.
The company believes this is "maintaining reasonable stock levels across most stores due to forward planning," a spokesman for the group said.
"Outback Stores have been placing orders in line with the current sales trends for each community store. Outback Stories is also facing challenges with supply chain due to COVID-19," the spokesman said.
However, Aboriginal Investment Group Chief Executive Officer Steve Smith has attacked what he describes as "panic-buying" behaviour by the chain leaving his organisation searching as far as Adelaide for basic supplies.
AIG represent 10 shops in remote areas impacted by coronavirus restrictions, while another 25 independently-owned businesses are also believed to have been impacted.
"We're literally calling around trying to find food to stock the town and it's completely unprecedented," Mr Smith said.
"The majority of the stores in remote communities are 'Outback Stores', but the other 35 stores are being severely impacted, particularly the 25 or so that are independently owned.
"'Outback Stores' have forward-purchased essential items for the next 6 weeks, meanwhile we've placed a 13-page order and found that 6 pages of it are out of stock," he said.
Representatives of government from both Federal and Territory level met with Industry bodies including Outback Stores on Wednesday to discuss food shortages.
The National Indigenous Australians Agency, who were in attendance at the meeting, have established a dedicated Food Security Working Group to monitor specific supply issues in remote communities.
The NIAA, which works in partnership with Outback Stores under the umbrella of the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, defended the organisation's behaviour.
"We have been informed that Outback Stores has been placing orders in line with the current sales trends," an NIAA spokesman said.
"NIAA is aware some community stores have not received their full order, but this is something that all Australians are experiencing to some extent," he said.
Upon contact, Representative for Arnhem Ms Selena Uibo declined to comment on specific food shortages, but claimed the Territory government is in close consultation with industry.
"It is important during this uncertain time that we sustain groceries and essential supplies, particularly in the bush, where we already face regular logistical challenges," Ms Uibo said.
"We are also liaising closely with store managers and distribution networks throughout the Territory, who are working tirelessly to ensure our regional and remote communities have access to what they need," she said.
The Aboriginal Investment Group, however, says it hasn't been properly consulted.
Favouritism by the government towards Outback Stores, they claim, is already resulting in shortages on the ground at this critical time for Indigenous communities.
"They're in the private marketplace charging for the management of their shops, yet they're being given government money every other week," CEO Steve Smith said.
"We weren't invited to that meeting, and neither were any of the independent stores.
"They've created a real issue for food security by giving them a monopoly - Outback Stores is an alpha and the supply chain has now been decimated," he said.