In the past week, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has led many consumers to make large purchases, resulting in empty shelves at given times. This past Saturday, some auctions have broken records as far as the entry of horticultural products is concerned. Many agricultural producers have been working longer hours to harvest more in order to meet the high demand from supermarkets. However, both the production sector and the wholesale and retail marketing and distribution sector assure that the supply is guaranteed.
"The demand from supermarkets was very high in the face of such an avalanche of purchases during the past week. This is now starting to mitigate and we hope that things will be back to normal tomorrow or Wednesday," says the manager of a major marketing company with stalls in the main Spanish wholesale markets. "This weekend, we have been forced to work non-stop to meet all orders. We have had to limit the service to our regular customers, although some intermediaries have taken the chance to speculate," he says.
"Potatoes and bananas, among other basic products, have been the most demanded and their prices have been on the rise, although the prices of vegetables have risen the most. In the case of strawberries, a product that is very sensitive to market movements, prices shot up at the end of last week, but today they have already hit rock bottom. It is the 'rebound' effect of the massive stockpiling. The positive part is that the value of many products has been rectified."
"It is true that supermarkets were out of stock at specific times. People stocked up mainly between Wednesday and Saturday and today everything was back in stock. Following the craze, now everything seems to be almost back to normal," says the marketer.
"At the moment, companies in the food sector, like us, are keeping their plants open and their workers must follow strict hygiene protocols. Asian food stores, which are important customers for us, and street markets are closed, although supermarkets and wholesale markets are still open. At the latter, accreditations are requested in order to limit the influx of people a little. The economic impact will be great. The government cannot do much more at the moment, but I do not think it will limit basic services, such as food sector. I think for now we will continue working normally. Also, consumption is even higher when people are confined to their homes," says the manager of this company.
In a statement released this Sunday, the employers have asked for guarantees in the delivery of raw materials to the food industry in order to keep it in operation. They have also asked the authorities for “more flexibility in the working hours and the loading and unloading areas” in order to strengthen the supply to stores.
"Production process proceeds normally"
According to FEPEX, the fruit and vegetable production process proceeds normally in Spain, with a volume totaling around 28 million tons. "The production is staggered throughout the year and is planned, which guarantees a permanent presence and supply," they say. "It is a priority to facilitate access to their jobs for the workers."
Out of the total volume, about 10 million tons are intended to meet the needs of the domestic market, another 13.5 to 14 million tons go to foreign markets, mainly the EU, and the rest goes to the processing industry. The vegetable production, including potatoes, stands at around 15 million tons. The citrus production amounts to 7.5 million tons and that of non-citrus fruit trees is estimated at 4.2 million tons, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.