Following the rapid spread of the Coronavirus all over Europe and the publication of European Commissions guidelines on border checks and the free circulation of goods, a practical guide was issued on March 22nd to ensure the regular flow of goods via the 'green lanes'.
One of the measures establishes a waiting time of maximum 15 minutes at the border for checks and the health screening of drivers, which is a further important step to avoid the long queues that slow down the flow of products on the European territory. The availability of refrigerated trucks and drivers remains a problem.
After the panic that spread a couple of weeks ago, Assomela is still working at a fast pace to guarantee supplies while respecting the regulations and safeguarding the health of workers.
Assomela confirms the possible labor availability problems in the summer and fall so, if the situation does not improve, simpler employment formulas will be needed.
But there are bigger problems outside of the EU and in India in particular. After the entry into force of a specific decree listing measures to assess the health conditions of container ship crews - which are leading to delays of 4/5 days in the unloading of goods - the situation reported by a few importers seems serious. Although there is no official measure limiting the operativeness of the country's ports and logistics, the leading importers are expecting a closure or partial closure, despite the fact that the two segments are essential to guarantee the procurement of primary goods.
Such a limitation would affect all categories and sectors, including food and logistics. The videos and photos provided by the clients show how strict checks make it impossible not only to move, but also to do one's job, even when it comes to food procurement.
To all this, we must add the difficulty of consumers to accept Italian apples and the checks carried out by inspection bodies and the local police inside general markets and stores aimed specifically at verifying the presence of Italian apples.
The situation is potentially very hard for Italian exporters, for whom these months represent the heart of the commercial season in this country. At the moment, around 400 containers sent in early February are on their way to India carrying goods for a total value above €8 million. No additional loads have been shipped over the past few weeks.
Assomela is in contact with the Italian authorities to better understand the situation and assess any possible action that could be taken, keeping in mind that closures and limitations would not only have an impact on Italian apples as, if we consider the quick evolution and spreading of the Coronavirus, they would affect the procurement of food in India itself.