The impact of Covid 19 has proved a stern test for the entire fresh produce sector, according to Mohammed Abbas, Del Monte's Senior Vice President APMENA, requiring swift action to ensure the continuation of supplies.
"It all started with the impact on the shipping lines, which caused delays, as well as shortages in available containers," he said. "We were able to overcome this situation by working on alternative options and utilised all routes available."
The biggest impact has been on the foodservice sector, said Abbas, causing a decline in fresh-cut sales. "We managed to balance this out with an increase in our retail sales across the region," he explained. "We remained resilient, continuing supplies to our markets from all our sources, and stepped up when called upon by the major retailers to ensure consistent supplies of the highest quality."
Abbas described the efforts made by the group to continue operations during the pandemic as extraordinary, "particularly our teams on the front lines in the fields, packhouses, operations and markets".
"We have taken very disciplined inspection measures to make sure that everyone entering the working area and premises is not infected," he said. "Each employee gets their temperature taken, and this is recorded on a daily basis. We have made adjustments inside the packhouses and production areas, with innovative measures in place to ensure distancing between employees. Sanitising stations have also been installed and disposable safety masks and gloves made available to all employees on the front lines."