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Eric Tastayre, Apifood:

“We live day by day, because the situation can change at any moment”

The impact of the coronavirus was relatively moderate at first for the company Apifood. But today, tensions are starting to be felt at the supply level. “We have a sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. For the moment, despite a slight decrease in supply, we manage to maintain our activity and we do our best to continue to supply all our clients. But we know that the situation can change overnight,” explains Eric Tastayre, manager of Apifood. Indeed, a Covid-19 contamination of the suppliers would imply a quarantine for the employees, which would lead to a termination of our activity as well as the supply.

“Until the start of the lockdown, we had a frenzy of orders”
The demand was particularly high these past few days, but it is now starting to become less sustained. “We had a frenzy of orders until the start of the lockdown on Monday around noon. Since yesterday, we feel that it is slowing down a little. In Italy, the fruit and vegetable sector has suffered a 30 to 50% drop in activity. We are therefore expecting a similar situation in the coming weeks.”

“Some products are more affected than others”
Eric notes that not all products are affected in the same way by the situation. “The main references like the apples, bananas, oranges and pears are relatively spared in terms of sold volumes for now. As far as we’re concerned, we have a sustained demand for the PGI oranges with leaves from Portugal and the Rochas pears which, in addition to being very qualitative products, are full of vitamins and therefore particularly popular in the current context. On the other hand, we were forced to cancel the promotions we had planned because of the lack of supply and some pressure on prices also caused by the lower availability of trucks.”

“But orders are decreasing for strawberries for example. which are a festive product. We lost 1 euro per kilo in just one day, on Monday. I think that the planned promotional actions will be cancelled because the strawberry is no longer a major product for large retailers, as it should normally be at this time of year. Of course, supermarkets have fewer employees working, so they will have to limit the diversity of their supply and turn to products with high turnover.”

“Our employees are our priority”
Half of the Apifood employees are now teleworking. And to compensate for this slight drop in activity, the company first asked its employees to settle their vacation days from the previous year. Eric hopes that he will not have to take any additional measures. “Like everyone else, we are organizing ourselves the best way we can and we live day by day. We are really in the dark and we do not know what tomorrow will bring. But we should not complain, some had to stop working completely, which is not the case in our sector. As long as there are products available, we are happy because we can maintain a minimum of activity, which allows us to keep our employees and avoid short-time work. We will do our best to avoid this, because our employees are our priority. But depending on how the situation evolves, we might unfortunately have to take further action. If there is only a slight drop in activity, we will ask our employees to take their vacation days. If it gets a bit more serious, we will have to take short-time work measures. And if it gets really bad, we will have no choice but to consider laying off employees.”

“We had planned to meet with our clients to prepare our summer fruit campaign”
The situation is detrimental to the current campaigns, but it also represents a brake for the preparation of the summer campaigns. “Normally, we have a certain number of meetings planned this time of year with our clients in order to prepare our main summer fruits which are the plum and the grape,” explains Eric. “It is also now that pollination is taking place. And this year is relatively atypical since we had practically no winter, which led to early pollination, with a few temperature drops. Therefore, we still do not know if it was optimal. Not to mention that it could still freeze in April. This time of year is always worrisome, and this year, it is slightly reinforced by these special weather conditions and this impossibility to go there. But we will adapt, as we have always done for 30 years.”

For more information:
Eric Tastayre
Bâtiment administratif
Marché Gare
82030 Montauban
Phone: +33 5 63 20 22 50
Mobile: +33 6 07 59 03 75   

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