Companies part of Gruppo IV Gamma at Unione Italiana Food make an assessment on the current post-Covid-19 situation. Phase 2 has just started but, for the food and agricultural sector to take the right direction, it is essential to be aware of the impact that the pandemic has had and will continue to have on the market.
While phase 2 should guarantee a recovery of retail volumes, two significant problems remain. First of all, after the total closure of over two months, the H&R sector is recovering slowly and not without difficulty. Secondly, businesses have had to deal with increasing fixed costs due to the purchase of personal protection equipment and the reduction of operating staff to guarantee distancing.
"Complying with government directives has required quite the effort, also from an economic point of view. Of course it has been done to guarantee the availability of fresh produce in store without compromising on the high quality we are used to. Unfortunately, the results of the past few months have not been positive, so I believe we need to start thinking about how to bring consumers closer to the fresh-cut segment again," states Andrea Battagliola, general director at La Linea Verde.
Andrea Battagliola, general director at La Linea Verde
Our purchasing behavior has in fact not gone back to the way it used to be before the pandemic. The frequency of store visits has yet to increase and ready-to-eat products are still suffering, also due to the fact people are still working from home and are therefore not looking for "office lunches" anymore.
"During the emergency, the sales of fresh-cut products dropped due to the fact that these products have a limited shelf-life and that consumers reduced the purchases of "service" goods. I believe that, now more than ever, we need to strive for positive change that can transform our difficulties into new opportunities. The emergency may have led to a change in consumption. We need to intercept and predict consumer needs so as to accelerate the resumption of volumes," reports Simone Zerbinati, general director of a company part of UIF IV Gamma.
The drop in sales is not only affecting fresh-cut businesses, but also suppliers, which have to deal with higher fixed costs and are finding it difficult to plan productions for the next few weeks, as they have no idea of the volumes that will be absorbed.
Despite this delicate situation, companies part of Unione Italiana Food IV Gamma have the objective of increasing food security and keeping up the cooperation between the food and agriculture and distribution sectors. "We are all aware of the importance of each single role when it comes to guaranteeing the availability of fresh-cut products in stores and in people's houses."