"Consumption increased during the coronavirus, especially of fruit and vegetables with a high vitamin content such as citrus fruits and vegetables in general, but not of tropical products imported from overseas". This was the bitter comment of Lino Campanella, sales manager of Italfrutta Distribuzioni, a company specialized in the trade of exotic products, based in the fruit and vegetable market of Milan. The company has tied almost all its business to the HoReCa sector, which has been devastated by the prolonged closures of restaurants and hotels throughout Italy; hence the bitterness.
ItalFrutta Distributions stand at the Fruit and Vegetable Market in Milan. From the left, Sandro Todaro (manager), Lino Campanella (sales manager of exotic products) and Umberto Musso (commercial director).
"In this season, the coronavirus has made the sales of tropical products more difficult - continues the expert - because they have been penalized by advertising campaigns such as 'we buy Italian and help our companies to get out of the crisis'" .
Todaro provides an overlooked point of view, namely that of the companies which market by realizing their turnover mainly through imports.
"Pineapple sales have slowed down sharply - Campanella says - due to the coronavirus lockdown. Restaurants, hotels, bars and catering services, that is the main consumers of these products, have had to close. Household consumption obviously could not make up for the drop in sales. Furthermore, household consumption is more geared towards a product ready to eat, therefore with the right color and ripeness, thus penalizing the green or semi-green product, which is still about 80% of the total volume".
"In this period, in South America - says the manager - it is the time of maximum production and farmers are forced to gather and ship the product, despite the general slowdown in consumption, further lowering the price. Until we go back to normal the pineapple sector will be penalized; more than other exotic products, which for various reasons can keep pace on the markets".
"Prices - says Sandro Todaro, company manager - are obviously affected by this situation. At the moment, only products shipped by air, those ready to eat (at the right stage of ripeness for immediate consumption, ed.) maintain the standard price of 1.20 euros per kg; while the ordinary product, that is, green/greenish is at 70 euro cents per kg. The pre-Covid price for the latter was 1 euro. For the rest, there are no big indications, since we tend not to unload the product and, if we really have to, we sell it at the realizable price. We hope for a recovery in the next few months, because at the moment there is no demand".