The consequences of the Corona crisis have been very noticeable on the Zurich wholesale market for several weeks now. The important commercial hub of northern Switzerland normally guarantees the fresh supply of many millions of people in the urban area. "People buy less: instead of imported goods, they now prefer to use regional products from local farmers. This is of course anything but advantageous for us as importers," explains Gian Andrea Paganini, Managing Director at the Zurich location.
The family business is one of the long-established players on the wholesale market and obtains a substantial part of its fresh produce directly from Italy. However, it is precisely in the southern European country that the corona crisis has hit hardest. "We still get enough goods, sometimes at much lower prices. The prices per kilo for Italian strawberries are currently around 20 percent below the previous year's level."
Added to this are the import quotas and associated customs duties for products that are traded parallel to domestic products. As a result, vegetables are less likely to be sourced from neighbouring countries at this time of year.
Gian Andrea Paganini, Managing Director at the Zurich location.
Relaxation of measures
Nevertheless, the crisis also makes people more inventive, according to fruit trader. Apart from the first few weeks after the closure of the catering trade, the pick-up business on the wholesale market has hardly lost any of its vitality, says Paganini. "There are a lot of new initiatives being launched. Many of our regular catering customers have started a take-away service or delivery service. Therefore, the loss of sales for us is still somewhat limited." Compared to average sales, he estimates the loss at 25 percent.
Venzi & Paganini AG has three locations in Switzerland and Italy, including its own fruit plantation with apples and pears. "Apples and pears for the premium market are grown on a good 30 hectares, which are mainly supplied to Migros and other bulk buyers. Thank God we are not in the harvesting campaign at the moment," Paganini explains.
Despite everything, he still believes that the current situation will soon ease off. "I hope for a relaxation of the measures by the middle-end of May."