Rob Cullum - Pacific Produce

“It was not an easy season to read as things changed from week to week"

Back in late March, lock downs were being implemented in many countries which was causing major headaches for growers, exporters and importers around the world.

It was no different for Rob Cullum at Pacific Produce a major importer of Peruvian avocados. The export from Peru had just started but COVID was causing delays and uncertainty.

“All in all it actually panned out ok for us. There were problems of course, all the growers and shippers faced them. In Peru fruit is grown in many different valleys, each had different levels of infection and different measures to combat the virus. This ultimately led to increased costs.”

Big volumes were expected out of Peru and the European buyers understandably tried to push the prices down, but as always it is not a flat season – the over and under supply related to specific sizes in certain weeks and this can also invert quite fast as different regions take over the supply volumes.

“It was not an easy season to read as things changed from week to week. We hit our programs despite getting less fruit than expected, the volumes were good but sometimes the wrong sizes. One thing was constant throughout and that was the quality, which remained high all season for us. This is down to our farms doing a great job – it really makes life much easier when you can rely on the internal quality.”

When the food service industry shut down people were worried, but demand for avocados stayed high throughout, the demand just came from retail instead.

“Some products had a tough time though, exotics for example and grapes, but citrus did very well. In most cases the fruit and veg trade held up. As an industry I think we can be proud of the job that has been done throughout the supply chain – farm, logistic, retail  every part has had extra work load and costs but the produce never stopped."

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