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The sector has been united and emphatic in its response

“At this time of severe crisis, the fruit and vegetable sector has shown everyone how essential and vital it is for everyone to remain united and, generally, this has been neglected for far too long. In just a matter of days, the companies in the sector have instilled an extraordinary spirit of cooperation. An exceptional response and coordination which have revealed how strong and essential a united sector can be”.

Marco Rivoira, the Managing Director of the group from Piedmont that bears his name, one of the leading domestic fruit and vegetable operators, does not hide his enthusiasm about the way the fruit and vegetable industry has shown its mettle to tackle and overcome the emergency caused by the coronavirus and to share with others its daily experiences so that they can face it in the best way possible. All in just a few days.

“Over time, even the large retailers, or at least some of them, have shown a spirit of cooperation with the production sector that they have rarely shown before”

The company from Cuneo was one of the first to take all of the necessary precautions, installing screens in warehouses to separate workers and avoiding any contact between them and, obviously, also obliging them to use masks, gloves and sanitising gels. The commendable efforts of the employees of the company from Verzuolo have even been rewarded with a wage rise.

The market seems to be coping with Covid-19. “In Italy and Europe, we are no longer encountering any specific problems in delivering goods”, remarks the businessman from Piedmont. “Commendable work is being done by the transport sector which, especially thanks to the spirit of sacrifice of the drivers, is distributing the products fairly regularly.  The only problems are occurring outside Europe and, in particular in India, where there is speculation on prices unfortunately”.

The main particular concern now regarding the coming months is the lack of manpower. “The main conundrum is how the harvesting of crops will be managed and performed in the spring and summer”, comments Rivoira. “We are currently selling the produce that we have in storage. But we need workers for future harvesting. I’m afraid that it will be difficult to get workers from abroad”. Additionally, at the moment, foreign workers, especially from Eastern Europe, are willing (and able) to come and pick fruit in Italy.  “In light of this situation, we must create the conditions to attract Italian workers”, observes Rivoira’s Managing Director.

Stocks of fruit and vegetables may start to run low if the crisis last for a long time. “This could create an opportunity for workers from other industries that are in crisis, such as tourism, to get back into the game. The fruit and vegetable industry may experience something of a boost when it comes to employment, even from other sectors which are currently completely stable. But for that to be possible, red tape must be reduced so that people can be hired quickly and easily”, explains Rivoira. “I’m sure that we will learn a lot from this emergency. An experience that will leave a mark over time”.

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