Jordi Martí, National Sales Manager at the CMR Group, tells us how consumers have evolved due to the Covid-19 healthcare crisis.
How is the company experiencing the new normality? How did the closure of the Horeca channel affect you?
The fruit and vegetable growing sector in general is responding positively to the current social-health crisis. Global consumption has increased, although it is true that the mix of products and channels have changed due to the circumstances.
On the one hand, the closure of the HORECA area for months and its subsequent partial, irregular opening depending on the territory, with particular incidence in tourist regions, has affected the marketing of products that are closely linked to this channel, such as exotic fruits and convenience food, but as a compensation, local trade with an offer of more traditional produce has seen its volume increase.
The national stone fruit campaign is currently very complicated at source due to the lockdown in the main producing region. Is this affecting the sales on the market?
The stone fruit offer has been compromised in this campaign for two reasons. On the one hand, the weather conditions, with storms that reduced the total volume, and, on the other hand, the lack of seasonal workers to collect the harvest.
This combination of elements has limited the stone fruit available for the market, which, together with a significant demand in this category, typical for this time of year, has caused prices to rise.
Have pre-pandemic and current buyers changed?
Consumers are more aware now with aspects such as the consumption of natural, healthy, sustainable, traceable, local products from brands that are accountable to society.
Regarding the channels, fruit and vegetable buyers have opened up to e-commerce, which continues to grow and to become more consolidated, although the volume continues to be very small in comparison with physical shopping, given that consumers appreciate being able to see and check fruit and vegetables using their senses, receiving advice and finally, selecting the pieces for themselves that will form part of their shopping basket.
Local trade, municipal markets and greengrocers, have seen an upturn in visits by customers during these months.
You have an important sales network outside Spain (Holland and France). How is the marketing occurring in these two places?
The French market is experiencing an important increase in the demand for BIO products, ahead in the consumption per person of a country like Germany, the indisputable long-time leader.
The demand for natural, healthy and local produce is also a strong trend on the French market.
Our sales office in Holland works as a re-dispatching platform for the rest of Europe. The effects of COVID vary enormously in terms of the country, but with common features, we can talk about an increase in consumption of fruit and vegetable products, particularly for those that offer extra defences against external aggressions, such as citrus fruits or kiwis, as well as the preference for local produce.
CMR Group has a significant vocation as an importer. Do you think that the new trend for local produce will affect it? Will exotic produce suffer?
It is true that there is a current trend for local products. However, this comes up against the reality of seasonality of production and availability.
When the window of availability of a local product comes to an end, consumers want continuity on the supermarket shelves. Therefore, importers go to the geographic regions that are opening up to the export of the product in question at this moment, thus supplementing the local produce and closing a perfect cycle all year round.
There is a demand for exotic fruit in the gourmet sector, and another traditional, regular demand by groups of other nationalities and origins, who eat them regularly.
Therefore, although it is true that their consumption has dropped during this period, to a large extent, this is due to the shortage of air freight space, which has significantly affected the price, and so, conditioned its demand.
What future projects does the company have, both as a business and for launching brands or for infrastructures?
Two campaigns ago we launched our Premium pre-ripened Avocado brand AURUM Cosarica, which from the very beginning was very well received by the market due to its extra quality, its strict selection and the great care and pampering used in the ripening process, carried out by a professional team in our ripening rooms in Barcelona.
Likewise, we are extending our ripening capacity at the company’s central premises in Barcelona, in order to offer an extended, improved service to the market.