At the time I am writing these lines, we have already been in confinement for over a month. As is the same for all of us, I have no idea when we will exit this situation, but I am certain that we will come out into the middle of a deplorable economic situation. It is already known that Spain will experience its worst crisis since the Civil War. The GDP will drop by 8% and unemployment figures will reach almost 5 million. We must be ready for what is coming.
It is true that, in one way or another, this is a privileged sector, as it is essential and irreplaceable. It cannot stop, nor will it. And this is the time to also indicate that it is a strategic sector and that, at times, governments have ignored or undervalued it.
In the new circumstances, we must adapt to another set of parameters. It is very likely that the purchase drivers will change again, giving priority to price over health (with the irony that we are now locked down due to a health crisis!) and that the entire chain must readapt itself again, as it did back in 2008.
This edition contains a Potato Special: this ugly tuber that has been the cause of social turmoil and that took a whole generation of the Irish to America. A tuber is more important than is thought, as even the NASA carries out experiments with potatoes in space.
The sector has experienced a real upheaval during this time of Covid-19. The demand for fresh potatoes has been, and continues to be, extraordinary and Spanish operators have managed to meet this demand.
Many people are unaware that we import between 600,000 and 700,000 tn of potatoes from France every year because we do not have sufficient home produce. A circumstance that has already been brought to light by the top people in this country’s packaging companies, not to stop doing it, but to increase the commitments and contracts with Spanish farmers. Because it is time to work together, in a supportive way in order to generate wealth in our country.
I welcome the idea that the leading company in this segment has raised before the supermarket chains about sourcing most of its supply from Spain and that “all the formats that may be fulfilled using Spanish produce, will be used.”
Crises change or streamline processes. In this case, it is true that every cloud has a silver lining, because the business will bring people back to uninhabited rural areas, employ labour in Spain and the workers will pay their taxes here; wealth that cannot be squandered at the moment.
Weren’t we told that this crisis would change us? Well, this is the first step.