A survey carried out in June by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Latin American Federation of Supply Markets (FLAMA) has concluded that, as a way of adapting to the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, 73% of the wholesale markets in Latin America and the Caribbean are using digital applications or platforms to market their food, while 50% have implemented agreements with delivery companies to deliver the products to their clients.
The survey was conducted with 64 wholesale markets in 15 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Uruguay. The markets were asked about new ways of marketing, the main problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the social role they have developed in their countries.
The survey also revealed that 92% of wholesale markets reported a decrease in purchases by hotels, restaurants, and other types of services. It also revealed that the partial closure and restrictions affected 32% of the wholesale markets and 22% of the retailers.
In addition, 45% indicated that there has been a decrease in purchases by public institutions.
Moreover, in 72% of the cases, there was an upward variation in the prices of some products and 70% of the respondents said they were concerned about the uncertainty of the markets due to the economic, social, and health context of their countries.
Finally, 52% said they were affected by the drop in merchants and operators in the markets and 42% indicated that they lack their own financial resources to improve sanitation levels.
The social role of wholesale markets
The survey also analyzed the support that the wholesale markets have offered to the population. 69% of respondents indicated that they had made direct donations to humanitarian aid institutions and 56% made donations to food banks.
Similarly, 42% of the markets made free and direct deliveries of food to the population.
With more than 3.4 million infected and nearly 350,000 dead, Latin America is currently one of the main spots of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, which will drive regional GDP to contract by a historic 9.1% in 2020 and raise the unemployment rate to 13.5%, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac).