The current corona crisis is causing some difficulties for Germany's fruit importers: The bureaucracy concerning the procurement of goods has increased enormously and with it, the time required for the entire supply chain. Nevertheless, people can basically go forward into the future with hope, says Thies Claußen, Quality Manager at Global Fruit Point LLC.
At the North German fruit trading company, the exceptional situation has also influenced the internal operating procedures and daily business. "We have, as far as possible, integrated a kind of 50-50 regulation into our office work. In other words, we do half of our work in the office and half in the home office. However, this sometimes presents us with great challenges, because in our business, many documents have to be transmitted and sorted".
Complicated operating procedures
The import and trade of fruit and vegetables is one of the system-relevant business areas, and thus the flow of goods still takes place, Mr. Claußen confirmed. "There are of course several challenges associated with this at the moment. For example, the aforementioned documents, which the authorities accept as copies rather than originals for the time being, but later want to have the originals submitted later, cause a foreseeable extra workload: these extended operating procedures lead to massive additional work, especially when working with perishable foodstuffs such as fruit and vegetables.
'Fruit can't wait', that was already an issue before the crisis, and it's not going to get any easier now." The national and European associations are now trying to find a solution.
Thies Claußen together with Beate Löwe-Navarro at the Global Fruit Point stand during Fruit Logistica 2019.
The current measures also have an impact on the logistics service providers and partners of Global Fruit Point. "Until recently, fruit was packed shoulder to shoulder at our packing plants. Because of the current distance rules, this packing process has now become much more complicated. This indirectly affects us, of course, although the previous effect on the packed quantity is still limited," Claußen explained.
Good season for overseas stone fruit, low demand for exotics
So far there has been no mention of noticeable supply bottlenecks or procurement problems with overseas products. The segment of unusual fruit exotics is currently experiencing lower demand, while "commercially available" exotics - such as mango and avocado - are being shipped in the usual quantities. Meanwhile, the season for overseas organic and Demeter quality kernels - one of the company's specialities - is now in full swing. "The campaign is running roughly identically to the previous year. The demand is at the same level, even slightly above average. We are now at the beginning of the Argentinian harvest, so it is still too early to assess the season. Nevertheless, based on information and deliveries so far, we expect a normal season."
Argentinian pears are offered in both organic and Demeter quality.
All in all the experienced quality manager is optimistic: "Certainly in our business sector, the trade in high quality food, I see a sustained renaissance in the recognition and appreciation of these articles. Our hope is accordingly that the crisis will ultimately also have a positive effect on the fruit industry," Claußen concluded.