For many years now, Lino Manduca, a fresh produce supplier from Abstadt, has been firmly established in the (supra)regional fruit trade. The native Italian serves a wide range of customers with fruit and vegetable specialities from his home country. But in the wake of the Corona crisis, the turnover of artichokes, blood oranges, radicchio and the like dropped considerably in recent months. For the trader, the situation is now slowly but surely threatening his existence.
The Manduca family name looks back on decades of history in the fruit and vegetable sector. "My grandfather was already a grower in the 1930s. I have simply continued my family's life's work and I am connected to my job with heart and soul," he says.
Lino Manduca visiting an Italian producer. Production in the family's outdoor and greenhouse facilities came to a standstill a few years ago.
In the course of the crisis, the turnover of the fruit wholesale trade declined rapidly. "There is nothing going on in the catering sector. In other areas, too, such as weekly markets and specialised retail, turnover has dropped rapidly since the turn of the year. Some of my customers have already had to file for bankruptcy. The decision to extend the lockdown until the beginning of March was another disappointment for me and my clientele." Due to these circumstances, the profit margins per product have also been reduced.
On the sourcing side, the challenges are still manageable so far, Manduca explains. "I have been able to travel everywhere since the crisis began, whether to Milan, Verona or elsewhere. The situation as it is often portrayed in the media does not correspond to reality, in my opinion. Of course there are problems, my suppliers sometimes complain as well. But those who have a reliable network of suppliers still get their goods on time."
Hard struggle for survival
Due to the pandemic and the months-long drop in sales, the specialist retailer is now in a tough fight for survival. "I'm thinking of shutting down my business for a short while, so I can hit the ground running again after the crisis. The coming weeks and months will be decisive for me and my future in that sense."
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