The cooperative is preparing to ensure that its clients have stone fruit until September
Actel cooperatives are working at full speed, and they will allow the second degree cooperative to lengthen its campaign as long as possible.
The organisation’s figures speak for themselves: 100 million kilos of fruit, of which 50 correspond to stone fruit and 30 to pears, as it is the main Catalan operator for this fruit. Fruit Today held an exclusive interview with José Manuel Ibáñez, Fruit Business Manager, who talked about the development of the campaign and the main lines of work.
What can you tell me about the current campaign? Do you think that the producers will receive better settlements than last year?
It is quite likely that there will be an important shortage of fruit in the third or fourth week of August. Obviously, this situation must be placed in a production context of an estimated reduction of 35%.
With this panorama, Actel’s sales strategy involves maintaining our offer for strategic clients in the large retail distribution, because we have important agreements with both Spanish and European distribution. I think that we will be one of the few cooperatives in Lerida which, due to the typology of its productions, will be able to extend the campaign.
The aim is to stay on the market for as long as possible and to supply the entire range. To do this, we are maintaining a policy of agreements with other large companies and cooperatives in Murcia and in Gerona, as well as with one of our own cooperatives in Badajoz.
Regarding settlements, the campaign still has a long way to go. It is true that the prices up to now have been better than last year’s, but the wastage has also been higher due to the characteristics of this campaign’s fruit. We will have to wait a few weeks to get a clearer approximate idea.
What actions has the group implemented to ensure that its workers can work safely?
Our keywords include, in the first place, the safety of the people who are working at the factory and therefore, we have not spared any expense in improving safety procedures and, secondly, we have prioritised the quality of the fruit over productivity and usability.
The factory is working at 60% of the volume that it could manage in a normal campaign due to the distancing and the safety measures. On the packaging lines, there are screens separating the workers, who also wear masks and facial protection screens. We have created a complete series of tents to maintain social distancing in all activities not included in the production line. The groups are stopped every hour, using an alarm system, to ensure that the personnel clean their hands with sanitising gel.
Furthermore, we have extended the changing and dining room areas, using outdoor tents.
The factory’s surveillance service has been strengthened with more human resources and we have a temperature control with cameras. In short, Actel is a safety bunker. It is truly difficult to become infected in our centre, but obviously, nothing is impossible.
Apart from the physical measures adopted by the cooperative, the involvement of all its workers throughout the campaign must be underlined and, very particularly, during the toughest part of the pandemic. Without this human capital, we wouldn’t have been able to carry on.