With events being canceled and costs already being made, it’s uncertain times for the companies that build processing machines for the fruit and vegetable sector. In Sweden, the government is undertaking actions to delay a major outbreak of COVID-19 amongst the population.
Ruben Larsson is the founder of Swedish IQF freezing line supplier OctoFrost. They build complete lines to IQF freeze a variety of fresh produce. According to Larsson, Sweden is in the midst of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak: “There have been massive actions from authorities to delay a major outbreak among the population. To reduce the risk of elders getting infected, there is currently a ban on visits in nursing and retirement homes. The elderly in the nation are advised to not go out. The death toll as of Thursday morning is at 10 and we’ve had 1231 confirmed infected cases. People who can work from home have been asked to do so. There has been no panic among people, rather a sober view of the situation. Although people do purchase more daily essentials and frozen food than they usually would.”
When it comes to OctoFrost, so far not all that much has changed in their day-to-day. “In Sweden our business is running as per usual, with exceptions for those that can work from home are asked to do so. Direct contact with customers is suspended. We have already had a couple of interesting reference visits. Planned conferences and exhibitions have been cancelled. We have had the costs and still have costs that cannot result in the planned sales time frame.” Larsson explains.
As business will have to go on, Larsson feels industries have no choice but to try to work around the circumstances as best they can: “Our plan is to adopt the new situation and use other tools and thinking in our communication. As people will need food, the market is still there and will be needed the most. Our technology is highly automated with no-hand-touch which will be even more valuable in the future.”
The government is standing by its economics and has pulled out an emergency budget to support both companies and workers alike: “The Swedish government released 300 billion Swedish crowns (26.6 billion EUR) to support companies for full cost sick leaves and temporary redundancies due to the pandemic on Monday. There is also a lot of focus on stretching and delaying the peak of the outbreak to help medical facilities to handle the situation.” Larsson concludes.
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