Spain: Fruit wholesalers concerned about change in Mercamadrid opening times

Two months after the implementation of flexible opening times at the Central Market of Fruits and Vegetables in Madrid, which were set at 6 to 11 am, allowing the face-to-face sale and loading of goods from 5 am to 2 pm, the Association of Wholesale Business Owners (ASOMAFRUT) claims that most of its members are satisfied and have reasonably managed to implement a schedule that, in the medium term, will be the most beneficial for all.

The schedule was established based on technical criteria, surveys and a consensus with Mercamadrid and its users. It was achieved after several years of work carried out by a specific commission created for this purpose.

The new opening times, implemented in March, cover the needs of current customers, while making it possible to strengthen the relationships with new customers (Horeca channel, warehouses, distribution). They also facilitate the generational change of companies, help bring in new talent, improve everyone's quality of life, encourage the hiring of women and contribute to continue offering the best service to supply the Region of Madrid and its surroundings.

Therefore, ASOMAFRUT regrets the new criteria to be implemented by the City Council of Madrid at the request of the General Direction of Commerce, under which commercial activities will start at 4h30. These ignore the arguments put forward by our Association and Mercamadrid itself and has given more weight to the opinions of a minority of retailers, which during this time have exerted pressure and disseminated erroneous information, such an alleged rise in prices, which is absolutely not the result of this change in the schedule.

For the main Mercamadrid wholesalers association, representing 80% of the businessmen, the General Trade Directorate has aligned with the theses and needs of a specific minority user sector from the start and regrets that it has not been possible to maintain the necessary meetings with the mentioned General Directorate to transfer the needs and concerns of the wholesale users.

With the agreed schedule (from 5 am to 2 pm), the tasks of unloading, selling and loading were clearly differentiated, ensuring that the docks were accessible and free from 5 am for all buyers. Allowing the two activities to be combined is simply unfeasible and significantly increases the risks of accidents and the danger to users.

For this reason, in order to continue to maintain the best public service in the supply of fresh fruit and vegetable products from our Central Market, we hope that Mercamadrid will adequately apply the new criteria in such a way that they do not, de facto, cause the unloading operations to start earlier. Likewise, we understand that it is essential to provide companies with the necessary resources to allow them to meet the schedule regulations, avoiding unnecessary tensions between wholesalers and customers and allowing them to carry out their commercial activities under the same conditions.

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