Producers in Spain’s Murcia region have calculated that the Coronavirus has resulted in a 25-30% increase in production costs. Proexport CEO Fernando Gómez, speaking to Efeagro, said that the reasons for the rise were greater absenteeism, a reduction in hourly productivity, higher transport costs, and the introduction of numerous safety measures.
Proexport estimates that one in ten workers did not report to work in the first month of the blockade, as they were forced to stay home with their families. Absenteeism rates have now started to drop.
Meanwhile, as Murcia’s stone fruit campaign gets underway, the number of workers is half that of past years, as producers struggle to keep costs low. Santiago Martínez, president of the Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives of Murcia (Fecoam), warned about the difficulties that will arise as the season progresses:
“In May, we will reach the he peak of the stone fruit campaign and problems will arise with those fruits that cannot be processed due to a lack of staff. At that point we should start experimenting with the cold storage capacity and adopt a ‘plan B'”.
To help producers survive, proposals have included limiting working hours and persuading retailers to absorb the increased production costs, without passing them on to consumers.