As countries around the world increase their actions to contain the spread of Coronavirus Covid-19, the implications are beginning to be felt across the horticultural and agricultural supply chains.
While the availability of labour could yet be the biggest effect for growers over an uncertain summer, there are currently both pros and cons for the industry. There are also concerns that supplies of inputs from machinery to fertiliser and crop protection products could all be affected over coming months.
Ornamental growers across Europe are suffering from reduced demand, particularly with the busy Mother’s Day and Easter periods coming up, some analysists believe that the demand for homegrown and locally produced food could increase. At the same time, cross-border transport of fresh produce is being disrupted although the European Fresh Produce Association (Freshfel) said, “All possible measures have been taken across the supply chain to maintain supply of high-quality fresh produce.”
With official advice in the UK to avoid pubs and restaurants, wholesale demand has collapsed. Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice business, has already issued a profits warning saying it could lose almost a quarter of a billion pounds in operating profits. Wholesale markets such as New Covent Garden have reported a fall in demand of 50-60 per cent as small restaurants cease purchases, but wholesale markets around the country are remaining open.
Panic buying in many countries has seen supermarkets impose restrictions on certain items and created dedicated shopping periods for the elderly and high-risk groups, although logistical issues and buyer behaviour, rather than a shortage of products, are being blamed for empty shelves.
Photo credit: U.S. Army