The low point of the Corona crisis seems to have past a while ago: The protective measures in the individual European countries are gradually being eased and business is slowly getting back on track. But in the case of fruit & vegetables from Italy - Europe's first Corona epicentre - wholesale customers are still showing restraint. This has serious consequences for the specialised wholesale trade.
At present, there are a lot of stone fruits from the important Italian growing regions on the market. "The quality is excellent. In the case of nectarines, for example, all varieties are available, from standard varieties to yellow ones. The prices are also within the usual range, only 0.50 cents/kg above last year's levels. The demand, on the other hand, is low, possibly resorting to either regional stone fruit or other origins," explains Lino Manduca, owner of the Albstadt company Italia Natur.
Lino Manduca regularly travels to Italy itself to check the quality of the products on site.
Melons & grapes
According to the experienced specialist, the crisis has catastrophic consequences for the food trade, both in the short and long term. "At the height of the crisis, I was unable to work for several weeks. Last week I had to dispose of 50 boxes of Sicilian melons for the first time in my life, even though the quality of the goods was very good. I'm afraid we'll be feeling the effects of this crisis for another two years."
The market for Italian grapes, normally a very popular segment in the German trade, is also characterised by a poor demand. "It's been dead since the beginning of the campaign. We've adjusted prices accordingly, but marketing is still extremely slow."
Stone fruits from Italy
Situation threatening the existence of the company
For Manduca and his colleagues, the situation is starting to threaten their existence. "People remain extremely cautious when buying Italian goods. It's disastrous for Italian exports." But people are keeping the faith, and so do these Italians: "A few loyal customers -mainly weekly market traders and specialist retailers- are still buying from me, some have even returned to me."
There is another alternative to keep the company, which has been in existence for over 30 years, afloat. "We are just about to change our range to other Italian specialties, such as buffalo mozzarella, canned goods, wines or pistachios. But my great passion still lies with fruit and vegetables."