On March 20th 2020, the Lazio Region issued a ruling that forbids people from accessing or leaving the Fondi municipality (LT). The town has therefore been declared a red zone, but what are the repercussions on the agrifood segment?
Confagricoltura reported that a lot of produce from the MOF was either blocked or sent back from the retail chain or buyers because it was coming from a red zone. "The ruling does not forbid traffic to and from the fresh produce market. Refusing products because they come from a red zone is not in line with the scientific evidence provided by Efsa and the Ministry of Health, which excluded the possibility that the virus can be transmitted with food," explained Albano Bergami, president of Confagricoltura's Federazione nazionale di prodotto Frutticoltura.
The impact of exports is hefty in such a chaos, as they dropped by 70%. It seems like Great Britain, Poland and Hungary are reticent when it comes to buying Italian produce and various operators not in direct contact with the big retail chain report a drop in sales.
"We are taking all precautions: we are working shorter hours, all facilities are continually disinfected as a preventive measure and we measure the body temperature of all those entering the facility. Sales have dropped by 80%. The Italian government is not really supporting companies. Even if we manage to save ourselves from the virus, many companies will disappear," states a Mof operator.
Sunday, March 22nd 2020
Other operators think the market should close as a preventive measure to safeguard themselves and others. "We do not feel like putting the health of our employees at risk, so we have decided to close down for the time being. Orders can only be placed by phone and via Whatsapp and collected at the loading ramp. We still need to provide a service to producers and clients, who must not be abandoned in such a difficult time," explains Marialucia Stravato from Strafrutta Srl.
The situation at Strafrutta Srl on Sunday, March 22nd 2020
Things are going better for some. La Costiera owner Ferdinando Vinaccia reports that "so far, orders have been in line with last week and I must say that citrus fruit and kiwifruit are very much in demand. We are working with our doors closed and with reduced personnel. Of course all operators wears protective equipment and respect the minimum distance of 1 meter required. On Saturday, we disinfected the facility as a preventive measure."
"Our logistic operators are also working with the self-certifications required. We are asking for a solution to be found quickly and I cannot deny we are indeed worried."
Claudio Pepe, a producer from Cellole (CE), explains that " ... it is a bad period for everyone, even for us who are still producing despite everything. There are the more and less fortunate depending on whether the produce they grow is in demand or not. This year, the cauliflower campaign has not been very good although yesterday the produce did sell at a satisfactory price."