February 2020 - Fruit Logistica in Berlin was fast approaching and the news of the Corona virus outbreak in China becoming more worrying by the day. The fresh produce industry started to wonder how many people would travel to Berlin. As it turned out many people did and the show went on but possibly with less visitors and hardly any Chinese due to travel restrictions. After day two of the show the opinion was still mixed on visitor numbers. Regardless of the situation FreshPlaza still made a fantastic photo report of the stand holders and visitors.
As the month went on the effects of the shutdown in China were beginning to be seen in the trade. First there was speculation of a huge shortage of garlic and rapidly increasing prices as supply dwindled and demand increased. The Chinese New Year holiday was extended and people didn't return to word which affected supplies of many Chinese products
The Chinese lockdown also affected fruit arriving at the ports with 1,500 containers of Chilean fruit held in the ports. South African grape promotions in China were also halted but the early season meant that much fruit was in before the bottle necks at the ports.
Late in month the virus was starting to take hold in Europe, with infections and the deaths reported in Italy. This sparked mass panic buying across Europe
Meanwhile the citrus season was hotting up in South Africa with early lemon volumes up 10% at one grower. In Europe the fear of garlic shortage were start to proved right and it was difficult find anywhere. It was feared that 30% of the stored Chilean cherries could be lost due to the coronavirus outbreak as storage life was running out.