From 15 February to 15 March 2020 the fresh-cut market slowed down by 3% and the drop was even greater last week, from 15 to 22 March. "This is due to new spending habits - explained Andrea Montagna, president of Unione Italiana Food IV Gamma - generated by the emergency. Sales are currently declining, but we expect a relaunch in the long term."
"The fresh-cut is a habitual purchase, repeated over time - added the president - given the shelf life of 4-6 days. It is not an item that is stocked in the refrigerator. Because of the restrictions, consumers shop less frequently, perhaps only once a week, so the number of packs purchased is lower than in the previous period."
There are, however, a number of consumers, about 20%, who buy 80% of the total fresh-cut products. "The ready-to-use washed and packed salad depends on the frequency of purchase and it is logical that, at this time, the frequency has decreased."
However, there is one aspect that, in the long run, may boost consumption. "Our product guarantees maximum healthiness and hygiene. It is not handled and it is not touched in stores like a unpackaged item. I believe that, at the end of the emergency, more than that 80% of consumers who occasionally purchase from us will be attracted to our fresh-cut products, not only because of their intrinsic quality but also for a hygienic reason."
Andrea Montagna president of Unione Italiana Food IV Gamma
Another challenge for the fresh-cut companies is that of scheduling. "The restrictions imposed by the pandemic are new and it is difficult to make forecasts. Since the emergency started, not one week has yet been the same as the other with regard to sales. It's a new situation, both for us and for the retail sector."
Montagna used this occasion to express his gratitude. "Starting from farmers who are still carrying on their work, to sales operators, as well as employees within the plants and to all those involved in logistics, to each and every one of them I would like to extend my gratitude for the great work, dedication and the generosity of spirit they invested in guaranteeing fresh vegetables, every day, for the Italian people."