News and notes: Romanians flown in to help pick during pandemic, reports say

News and notes: Romanians flown in to help pick during pandemic, reports say

Produce Business Wire Reports

Several farms across the UK have secured chartered flights to help bring in hundreds of workers from Romania to assist in picking fruit and vegetables during the coronavirus pandemic, according to several news organization reports.

The first series of workers were scheduled to arrive on Thursday at London Stansted, with social distancing measures in place for those flying in from Bucharest. Commerical flights had been suspended since 5 April. 

Some 80,000 seasonal workers are needed during the season to harvest crops, but many Britons who initially showed interest in the jobs reportedly have opted not to follow through. According to a report in The Guardian, less than 20 per cent of applicants were fit to work or wanted to partake.

“Where it is possible and safe to do so in the current circumstances, bringing in workers from overseas to help meet the shortfall is the right thing to do if we want to keep the supermarkets stocked,” says Mark Bridgeman, President of the Country Land and Business Association.

Salad producer G’s has recruited some 500 workers from the UK but reportedly still needed to bring in about 150 from Romania.


Tesco: The retailer opened a popup store for health-care works at NHS Nightengale that will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the coronavirus pandemic. The supermarket says “we are incredbly grateful for everything the NHS is doing and proud to be able to support frontline workers.”

Food bank donations: The Vegetarian Society is teaming with the Trussell Trust to help deliver 1,200 meals this week to food banks in the Manchester area, including the Manchester Central Food Bank, which will be getting 150 boxes this week. 

Australia volatility: Uncertainty regarding the duration and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Costa Group to remove its financial guidance for 2020 despite a good start to the year. The country’s largest produce company said in an April 16 update that it had experienced “a robust trading performance year to date”. Costa has performed above budget for the first financial quarter in 2020 and significantly ahead of Q1 last year, it said.However, it said it’s not possible to provide meaningful forward financial forecasting with any reliable accuracy due to the “current high level of uncertainty and volatility in the social and economic environment generally”.

Belgium company benefits: Belgium-based multinational Greenyard said it has benefited from market conditions related to the Covid-19 pandemic for some of its segments. However, the financial benefit of increased demand is partially offset by higher costs and other challenges. “Due to the COVID-19 quarantine measures and subsequent shift of the volumes from foodservice (out-of home consumption) to the food retailers, the demand of Greenyard’s food retail customers and partners in its Fresh and Long Fresh segments has increased strongly,” the company said.It said that thanks to the implementation of early, swift and group-wide coordinated safety measures, and the dedication of Greenyard’s employees, its supply, transport & logistics and main markets remain fully operational.

European apple market see-saws: Trends in the Italian apple market at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic were reflected around the rest of the continent in March, with a dash to buy in supplies being followed by a downturn and then a return to more or less normal. The start of the lockdown first in Italy in early March – and then gradually in many other European countries – coincided with a particularly turbulent period for the apple sector, said Italian consortium VOG. According to the organization, there was “see-sawing demand” on both the Italian and the export markets.

Avocado surge in NZ: With cafes and restaurants closed, New Zealand has a surplus of avocados and shoppers can expect to find the fruit in supermarkets for longer – and at lower prices – than usual, local website Stuff reports. NZ Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said 20 – 30% of New Zealand’s avocados would usually go to foodservice and independent fruit stores at this time of year.



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