CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE

KEEPING YOU UP TO DATE

AgroFair operates all over the world, and the coronavirus is having an effect on our business operations. We are monitoring the situation closely and taking steps to protect our employees, customers and partners and keep the business running as normally as possible. This page contains the latest situation updates to our customers from CEO Hans-Willem van der Waal.

SITUATION UPDATE NO. 5
15-04-2020

Dear customer of AgroFair,

  1. Demand: There is excess availability of bananas this week, market demand is going down.
  2. Production: The production continues to be stressed by lack of materials and other inputs and difficulties experienced by workers of getting to work for lack of transport, curfews imposed by governments and the risk of mass panic. For the moment, the production keeps up, but the implementation of new packing formats is really difficult. Our producers all deserve a big compliment that they continue to supply us in these difficult times.
  3. Logistics: There was a threat that the port of Puerto Bólivar would be closed, but pressure form exporters has been effective in preventing this. The general situation remains fragile.
  4. Import processes: There are no special issues to mention. Electronic processes seem to be working adequately.
  5. Our employees works to a large extent from home. Our staff continues to work from home. Communication is ensured by remote access and video conferencing.

With best regards,
Hans-Willem van der Waal, CEO

SITUATION UPDATE NO. 4
08-04-2020

Dear customer of AgroFair,

  1. Demand: The demand for bananas to levels more normal for the time of the year. There ae sufficient stocks, banana prices tend to slide down. Demand from some countries, like Russia, has dropped, due to a decrease in purchasing power due to exchange rate fall.
  2. Production: The production continues more or less in a normal fashion, but various producers experience difficulties in keeping enough labourers active. Our producers have taken all kinds of measures to prevent the transmission of the virus in plantations and pack houses. Workers are distancing in the pack house, shields have been installed, hand hygiene stepped up, masks provided, doctors and trained medical staff give awareness trainings, often financed with the Fairtrade premium. Producers and cooperatives do much effort to prevent the disease and the outbreak of panic and to keep the income of workers intact. Some producers experience material shortages, especially where raw materials, such as pulp for kraft paper, or tapes and plastic materials need to be imported. In the DomRep, Haitian workers face difficulties coming to work, as the border is closed, or they prefer to stay at home. In some countries, curfews have been imposed and this limits the working hours, because people need to be back at home before the evening curfew starts.
  3. Logistics. We do not experience significant logistic disruptions related to the coronavirus.
  4. Import processes: We do not experience significant disruptions if import processes related to the coronavirus. However, packing and sorting operations when they are needed are a challenge because of limited mobility of casual workers (often immigrant labourers).
  5. Our employees This measure is continued according to government instructions. Frequent use of video conferencing with staff working at home and staff and producers overseas works well and is well appreciated.

With best regards,
Hans-Willem van der Waal, CEO

SITUATION UPDATE NO. 3
01-04-2020

Dear customer of AgroFair,

  1. Demand: We see a reduction of banana demand to normal levels with a tendency to slip further. Stocks in Europe are sufficient.
  2. Production: Some producers are affected by material shortages, especially where the supply has to cross a border (tapes to Ecuador from Colombia, boxes to Nicaragua from Honduras). Most producers have introduced strict hygiene measures, such as physical separators between people in the pack house, and stepped up hand cleaning procedures. In many countries, curfews have been imposed, and quality staff has reduced mobility. There is still a chance that production will be reduced when more people will be affected by Covid-19.
  3. Logistics. Currently, no specific problems.
  4. Import processes: Ecuador has adopted electronic export documents.
  5. Our employees works to a large extent from home. Travel restrictions in Europe and in production countries prevent us from traveling for commercial and quality purposes.

With best regards,
Hans-Willem van der Waal, CEO

SITUATION UPDATE NO. 2
25-03-2020

Dear customer of AgroFair,

  1. Demand. The initial high demand for bananas seems to be levelling off and decreasing due to restricted mobility of customers throughout Europe.
  2. Production: Some producer start to be affected by material shortages (cartons, bunch bags, banana box bags). We monitor how evolution of the epidemic will affect the labour force in the packing facilities and plantations. This may become a more pressing problem in weeks to come.
  3. Logistics. We experience at times shortage of reefer equipment in various ports of load.
  4. Import processes: Glitches in import documentation and processes continue but are mitigated by increased exceptional acceptance of electronic documents.
  5. Our employees works to a large extent from home. Travel restrictions in Europe and in production countries prevent us from doing all quality inspections as we use to do them.

With best regards,
Hans-Willem van der Waal, CEO

SITUATION UPDATE NO. 1
18-03-2020

Dear customer of AgroFair,

The whole world is plagued by the coronavirus. If it is not the disease itself, preventive measures cause a lot of uncertainty and difficult working conditions. I would like to inform you about the situation as we experience it for the banana chain:

  1. The demand for bananas in Europe is unprecedentedly high.
  2. Many logistic processes fail due to protective measures:
    1. physical document traffic (e.g. bio-COIs, EUR1s),
    2. the rotation of containers,
    3. logistic processes in ports
    4. Customs processes.
  3. The situation in the Netherlands: The Netherlands is not in lock-down. Many problems are caused by people suddenly being forced to work from home, where accessibility, mutual consultation and access to computer systems do not always run smoothly. The schools are closed, so that the children are at home, and the parents work from home. You can imagine that this is not the most successful combination.
  4. AgroFair has taken the following measures:
    1. 50% of staff work at home in rotation with remote system access.
    2. Every morning at 9 o’clock we have a video meeting in which we discuss the current issues and adjust the logistic process.
  5. Banana production:
    1. To date, the production and supply of bananas has not been endangered. We hope and expect that food export will be spared when governments take measures.
    2. Given their high dependence on exports, we assume this. So far, there are no producers who can no longer function due to illness or forced closure.
    3. It is very difficult to predict volume availability due to the high uncertainty in logistics and difficult communication.
  6. We’re doing everything we can to provide you with the requested volume, as we always try to do. We may be able to supply more volume if you can accept some flexibility in specifications, certifications, ports of loading, prices. Even then, securing the regular volumes and more, is challenging as you will understand. Nevertheless, we will do everything in our power, in collaboration with you, to satisfy your needs.
  7. We also wish you wisdom and insight to get through this difficult period as safely as possible.

With best regards,
Hans-Willem van der Waal, CEO

QUESTIONS RELATED TO THE CORONAVIRUS

Do you have questions about changes to our service due to the coronavirus? Please contact info@agrofair.nl

For more information about the coronavirus, please visit the website of the Dutch government or the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment).