Coronavirus changed a lot of things but it will not change our product strategy. Not every SKU reduction seen in the last few weeks will continue in the longer term.”

Stephan Weist is director of category management for fruit and vegetables at German retail giant Rewe Group. In the latest episode of Fruitnet’s new interview series Fruitbox, he explains how supermarkets in one of Europe’s largest consumer markets are coping with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Weist, there have been obvious effects – an overall increase in demand following the closure of restaurants, for example, or the various safety measures rolled out in stores, and even spikes in demand for products like citrus, ginger and garlic – but in the longer term he does not see any dramatic, long-lasting changes to the way people buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

For Weist, the real constant before, during and after the crisis will prove to be the enduring value of good relationships with suppliers.

“As a fruit and vegetable industry I think we are good at reacting quickly, because you have whatever five days or sun followed by two days of rain and then sun again… and suddenly your volumes double,” he explains.

“We’re used to that. We’re obviously not used to having political challenges at the same time where borders suddenly close and then open again. [But] as an industry we once again showed that we are problem solvers.”

Hosted by Chris White in London, Fruitbox was launched in March 2020. Already, a few thousand listeners from across the global fruit and vegetable business are tuning in twice a week to hear its exclusive interviews and expert analysis.

Produced by Fruitnet Media International, the show is essential listening for everyone in the fresh produce industry.

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The latest episode of Fruitbox, as well as all previous episoides, can be found on one of the following podcast services: