Jo Lambrecht, BelOrta:

"Hopefully the effect of increased consumption of local fresh fruit and vegetables will continue"

The Coronavirus outbreak has drastically changed day to day work. The measures that have been taken to contain the virus have ensured that working from home is the new "normal". How did BelOrta arrange this? And what are the long-term consequences of the corona crisis?

“We have taken various measures and working from home is one of them. During the onset of the crisis, we quickly made the decision to take internal preventive measures to ensure that the risk of contamination remained as minimal as possible. The cafeterias are closed on all our sites, but sales will of course continue. We have arranged additional home buying systems for customers and in the sales hall we pay close attention to keeping distance between customers,” says Jo Lambrecht of BelOrta.

“We also made efforts to reduplicate certain teams wherever possible. Whenever employees from one team become infected, we always have another team to fall back on. The work must be able to continue at all times, because we are in an essential sector. ”

Home sales
“Where possible, we had colleagues in the offices work alternately from home or not. This is not possible in all departments, because you have to be physically present to, for example, assess the quality, receive supplies and deliver them. Working from home was something that was not often done in our sector, because of the necessary interaction and the fast communication that is important in our industry. Due to the corona crisis, working from home has been introduced more quickly and it works well. Also with regard to meetings. In the meantime I think I have held a meeting with every available system,” laughs Lambrecht.

“I am not convinced that working from home is the future. On the other hand, we have now been introduced to the possibility, so I think it will be applied more in certain situations. Nevertheless, communicating with each other and fast interaction is important and that is not always easy when you are working at home. ”

According to Jo, the first weeks of the crisis were extremely hectic. “Hoarding raised demand from retail explosively that first week, then declined. Unfortunately, the catering and food service has disappeared, which has a significant impact on certain products, such as lettuce varieties, but also on cucumber. Demand from retail is currently slightly above average compared to other years, as home consumption is increasing. Campaigns have been conducted by BelOrta itself as well as in collaboration with VLAM to stimulate the consumption of locally grown food. We were able to introduce people to our local fruits and vegetables and inspired them to get started. We hope that this effect will continue in the long term and that people will continue to consume fresh fruit and vegetables after the crisis. ”

Online sales
“Although demand for packaged products has increased due to the corona crisis, I don't think it will be a huge switch in the market. At BelOrta we were already very busy making packaging sustainable, so we have various solutions that we can offer our customers. We expect this trend to continue in the future. Online sales, which have increased significantly, have had a huge impact on the crisis. You can pick up meal packages from restaurants, but wholesalers also supply fruit and vegetable packages. We do not yet know whether all this will remain at the same level after the crisis, but we have at least been introduced to it at an accelerated pace, so some things will remain,” concludes Jo.

For more information:
Jo Lambrecht
Mechelsesteenweg 120
2860 Sint-Katelijne-Waver
T +32 (0) 15 565 331

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