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Crisis due to high energy costs

Argentina: Blueberry and strawberry processors from Tucuman could close

The companies that process strawberries and blueberries in Tucuman are in a quandary due to the high costs of energy. The situation is so delicate that the establishments that freeze 100% of Tucuman's strawberry and 80% of the its blueberry might be closed by September, according to Daniel Bianciotti, the president of the Tucuman's Chamber of Berry Employers, Producers and Nurseries (Ceprofrut).

Tucuman's processing plants face a situation similar to the one faced by the Agrana Fruit company, the main processor of strawberries in the city of Santa Fe de Coronda, which stated last month that it was going to close a portion of its production and move it to the province of Corrientes, which put at risk some 100 jobs.

"The closing of the companies becomes inevitable, as they can't assume the increase in energy costs. The fixed cost increased by 100% and the variable by 39%," said Bianciotti. "These companies, which are SMEs and belong to regional economies, were not included in the benefits granted to large petrochemical, textile, and steel companies, among others that are energy dependent, a factor that represents more than 40% of their costs," said the leader.

The cold storage companies from Tucuman that work with berries directly, distribute 50% of their turnover between 4,000 families that work during the harvest and in other stages in Lules. "If the companies close, these families will lose their livelihoods and will have to resort to the state for assistance," Bianciotti said.

The board of directors of Ceprofrut conveyed the problem to the Deputy Governor, Osvaldo Jaldo, who stressed that the national government was responsible for solving this issue.

"The chamber of producers needs an urgent solution to this problem, since the activity is practically in a terminal crisis due to the absence of a policy for the regional economies," Bianciotti said.


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