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Russian retailers take preventive measures against Covid-19

Russian retailers take preventive measures against COIVD-19

Lenta, the 4th largest Russian food retailer, installs protective screens

To protect their cashiers, Lenta, N4 Russian food retailer, is being installing plastic screens. The work has been completed in all 249 retailer’s hypermarkets, and will be completed in its 131 supermarkets by the end of March. It is one among other measures taken by the retailer: the improvement of ventilation systems work, more frequent cleaning of the premises, temperature control for stuff and the installation of disinfection units in every store.

Magnit sends its staff to remote work

Magnit, the second largest Russian food retailer, is going to send half of their office staff for the remote work, in the first place, pregnant women and 50 years old and more employees. Those who cannot work remotely will communicate with all third partners by phone. Total staff of Magnit by the end of 2019 was 308,000, including 50,000 of office workers.

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Carrefour Statement – Opening hours

Carrefour Statement – Opening hours

Philippe PEGUILHAN – Country Manager of Carrefour UAE at Majid Al Futtaim Retail

March 23rd, 2020While shopping malls are closing in the UAE, all our stores remain open and fully stocked for customers, operating at our regular times.

We encourage all our valued customers to shop responsibly and be mindful of others. We have full confidence in our stock and supply chain and we continue to monitor stock levels to ensure we adequately cater to customer needs. We are also working closely with suppliers to ensure that essential products remain at reasonable prices so that our customers don’t experience an increase in their shopping bills.

In addition to full sanitation of the stores, Carrefour is adding measures to ensure social distancing and preserve the health of our customers and employees. This includes placing acrylic glass screens at checkout counters to reduce contact, and instructional signage to guide customers on the best social distancing practices.

Carrefour remains committed to offer customers the best and freshest food options at the best prices during the current challenges.

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Strong Together: Vilnius meets coronavirus pandemic with solidarity

Strong Together: Vilnius meets coronavirus pandemic with solidarity

Coronavirus pandemic has brought Lithuania under quarantine. But volunteers of Vilnius, as well as multiple entrepreneurs and businesses have come together to help the doctors and people in risk groups, serving as an example of what a united city can do to help those in need.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lithuanian government has imposed quarantine – and people in the capital Vilnius reacted with solidarity and speed. In the first week of quarantine thousands of volunteers offered their help, entrepreneurs have raised large sums for medical equipment using just online messaging, and telecommunications companies provided resources to coordinate the joint effort. The ongoing efforts of Vilnius municipality to build a tech-savvy and focused community of citizens also proved to be crucial in the face of crisis.

The force that is uniting the biggest numbers of volunteers is the municipality-inspired group Gedimino Legionas (Gediminas Legion) that is raising and coordinating initiatives of direct support. The name of the group refers to Gediminas, who was one of the most important rulers of Lithuania, the founder of Vilnius in the 14th century and the symbol of its historical strength. Since then the city went through many challenges and crises, from fires and enemy onslaughts in the 16-18th centuries to Soviet occupation in the 20th century.

Gedimino Legionas was born last year, as an initiative to resist a potential hybrid war by “hunting down” fake news, applying one’s IT or language skills or any other personal abilities. While last year’s events were just a test, this time, in the face of the pandemic, the Legion is actually using everything it was built to do. Volunteers are joining into groups and are taking up any tasks that they can – such as taking care of senior citizens by helping them with shopping for food and medicine. Seniors are informed about the need to stay at home through different communication channels: posters, flyers and even drones.

Providing help to overloaded medical staff, volunteers of Gedimino Legionas are raising funds for protective equipment or respirators or volunteering to walk dogs of doctors and nurses. Gedimino Legionas constantly refreshes the information on what needs to be done. The legion has already attracted more than 3000 volunteers and this number grows every day.

It is not the only effort of volunteer coordination. Competing telecommunications providers Telia, Bitė and Tele2 have joined other businesses and public institutions in organizing the national volunteer coordination center Strong Together. Both volunteers and help-seekers can register through the website. Then the coordination team matches offers and requests, such as food aid to those who need it or being a courier with one’s own car.

When it comes to individual entrepreneurs and businesses, one of the first responders was serial entrepreneur Vladas Lašas, who offered to organize a hackathon  Hack the Crisis. This virtual hackathon is taking place in Vilnius this weekend. Participants of the three-day event will generate innovative solutions for healthcare, emergency response, economy and other spheres of life affected by quarantine. Volunteers from the Lithuanian government, corporates and startup community are helping to coordinate the activities.

Many businesses direct their efforts towards providing support for doctors and medical staff as healthcare institutions are experiencing overload and doctors lack surgical masks and equipment. In a matter of hours entrepreneurs raised around EUR 600,000 through online communication. Well-known journalists and the tech community joined the fundraising efforts using online messaging, social media posts and specially created websites. Fundraising efforts still continue and the funds are constantly increasing.

Larger businesses extended an offer of free internet services to all medical facilities, while real estate developers MG Baltic Group purchased and donated the much-needed lung ventilation equipment to Vilnius city medical facilities.

There are many more businesses that donate their products or adapt production lines to the new situation. Distilleries and chemical plants are using their lines to produce disinfectants. Popular restaurants are providing free food for medical staff, servicemen, volunteers and isolated people. Fashionable clothing designer Robertas Kalinkinas is producing substitute surgical masks for doctors lacking professional protective equipment.

All the initiatives of the Vilnius business community are impossible to list. New ideas are brought forward every day. The city demonstrates the same resistance to crisis that it has proved repeatedly throughout its history, and shows the world what a strong community can do in the face of crisis.

“I am very proud to see my city showing such unity and solidarity. I think it really shows the spirit of Vilnius,” said Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius. “We are the city of personalities. But in times of crisis we come together and support each other. That’s when we show our real force.”


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Covid-19 outbreak – Call to prevent further damage to the growing media sector & food supply chain

Covid-19 OUTBREAK - Call to prevent further damage to the growing media sector & food supply chain

In the current Covid-19 crisis, the European growing media sector is doing its outmost to ensure continuity of movements of goods that are vital to the food supply chain. Growing Media Europe urges political decision makers on European and national level to prevent as far as possible disruptions in the trade and movement of goods that are essential to public food supply.

The Covid-19 outbreak has already led to a shortage of trucks, containers and transport workers that hamper the flow of goods mainly due to national border controls and quarantine measures for truck drivers. Growing media are indispensable for big scale production of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible mushrooms as the majority of these crops start their life cycle as young plants in growing media. Interruptions leading to delays at cross border transport both inside the EU and for third country export are risking to leave vegetable nurseries in Europe and throughout the world unable to produce.

Ensuring timely supply of growing media to professional growers is crucial for providing EU citizens with healthy food throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Thus, they asked the responsible European and national authorities to include the following raw materials for growing media in the highest priority (“essential products”) category:

  • Peat (HS Code 2703 000)
  • Coir (HS Code 53050000)
  • Bark (HS Code 14049000)
  • Liming products such as chalk (HS Code 25174900)  
  • Compost (HS Code 0602901000)
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Eucofel and PROEXPORT call on European Commission to facilitate transport of fruit and vegetables by road

Eucofel and PROEXPORT call on European Commission to facilitate transport of fruit and vegetables by road

Coordination at the community level will make it possible to guarantee the return of trucks, necessary to meet the supply of perishables


The president of FruitVegetablesEUROPE (Eucofel), and of PROEXPORT (Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruit and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia), Juan Marín Bravo, has expressed his profound concern about the negative impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on the road transport of perishable food, particularly on fresh fruits and vegetables.

In a letter sent to the EU on 19th March, Marín calls for the application of Article 14.2 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers engaged in the freight transport by road, in order to harmonise the conditions of competition between the modes of land transport.

This article states: “In urgent cases, Member States may grant a temporary exception for a period not exceeding 30 days, which shall be notified immediately to the Commission.” In this way, Member States can deal with situations that present exceptional and sudden circumstances that are inevitable and cannot be foreseen, in which it is unexpectedly impossible to apply the provisions of the Regulation in its entirety for a short period of time.

As Marín details in the letter sent to the European Commission, “the effects caused by the spread of Covid-19 constitute these exceptional circumstances, which are having an impact on mobility and transport in the EU.”

For this reason, the President of the Commission is requested to transfer measures contemplated in the resolution of March 16, 2020 from the Government of Spain to the EU as a whole, and provide the following:

  1. Temporarily exempt the operations of transport of goods affected by these circumstances of compliance with the rules established in articles 6.1 and 8.6 of Regulation No. 561/2006.
  2. The exceptions provided in the first section will apply to drivers who carry out cargo operations throughout the national territory (Spain). These exemptions will be applicable from March 14, 2020 to March 28, 2020, both included.

In this sense, FruitVegetablesEUROPE has requested that the EU and the Member States also apply Article 14.2, as the Spanish Government has done, and also take exceptional measures to ensure that perishable food continues to flow in the EU internal market, “as it is the only way to prevent a shortage of fresh food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables in the EU.” Only with the coordination of these measures at the European level will it be possible to organise the vehicle returns necessary to guarantee circulation throughout the Community territory.

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Coronavirus fears trigger panic stockpiling across world

Coronavirus fears trigger panic stockpiling across world


Panic induced by the coronavirus is leading to consumers bulk buying food, health care and other essential products as fears rise over potential supply disruptions. Retailers across the world are reporting crowded supermarkets and emptying shelves of items such as hand sanitiser and dry groceries like rice, pasta and canned foods. Consumer market researcher Nielsen that “pandemic pantries” are now spreading across the world. 

The emergency buying up of essential goods is also boosting spending on non-essentials like supplements, fruit snacks and first aid kits.

According to Nielsen, “In Vietnam, 45% of consumers polled said they’ve increased what they’re stocking at home, and 25% are buying more items online. Similarly, in Taiwan, instant noodles have been plucked from shelves and are now difficult to find in stores.

Analyst Kelly Bania of BMO Capital Markets describes the current situation and the direction it might take: “We see risk for a scenario in which COVID-19 virus significantly alters the food consumption patterns of Americans on a short-term and possibly uncertain timeframe. We also see increasing risk from the emotional impact on consumer confidence/spending patterns, given near correction status on the market. Going forward, it will be increasingly difficult for investors and companies alike to discern the underlying cause of these potential shifts and or areas of weakness.”

It is likely that there will be a shift from eating out to eating at home, which could further drive an increase in online food and grocery spending.


Nielsen-Coronavirus Pandemic Pantry Chart


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Chileans stand by Chinese partners during coronavirus outbreak

© Alexandra Sautois


Chilean Fruit Exports Association (Asoex) has offered support to China by offering to donate fresh fruits to the medical staff working to treat people affected by coronavirus. Containers filled with fresh Chilean produce sent to different ports across China had been held back due to the outbreak. With Chinese consumers turning to online markets to buy fresh produce, overall consumption has reduced. Shipping companies have been working to keep the containers in the market so as to increase availability of refrigerated storage.

In a statement issued by the organisation, Asoex president, Ronald Bown Fernandez, said: “It is complex, it requires constant monitoring as to how it evolves. We are relying on Chinese authorities to contain the virus, with the aim of returning to normalcy in the shortest period of time possible.” It’s unknown how long the current situation in China will last, with Asoex announcing it will work with the government to minimise the negative effectives by implementing a “specific campaign to promote the healthy attributes of fruit consumption”.

Around 265,000 tons of Chilean produce have been exported so far this season, with the main products being cherries, blueberries, table grapes, avocados, nectarines, plums, apples, and kiwifruit. This figure is up 27.7% from the same period last year.

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Global shipping stricken by coronavirus outbreak

Global shipping stricken by coronavirus outbreak, © Anthony Kwan, Getty Images

© Anthony Kwan, Getty Images


The coronavirus outbreak has taken a heavy toll on China’s shipping industry as a result of the lower output and trade. A report published by Danish maritime research group Sea-Intelligence highlighted the greatly reduced cargo flows between China and the rest of the world, with 50 sailings cancelled since January and 30 last week alone across the Pacific and to Europe. The Wall Street Journal reports that five European and Asian container ship operators are preparing profit warnings for the first half or the full year. This news comes as a great disappointment, especially as it had been hoped that the improved trading relationship between the US and China would result in an upsurge in business. The WSJ reports that at least one container ship with a capacity to carry over 20,000 containers left Shanghai for Northern Europe with only 2,000 full containers. “It will pick up more at ports on its way, but loading data show it will reach Europe around 35% full,” this broker said. “That’s unprecedented, and a lot of money is being lost because it doesn’t even cover the fuel cost.”

According to the report published by Sea-Intelligence, over 350,000 containers have been removed from global trade since the Chinese New Year. These woes are estimated to be costing the shipping sector around US$350 million a week.

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Chilean fruit exports to China decimated

Even though fruit is a significant snack globally, and even vegetables are popular in the Asia-Pacific region (57%), cheese is the most eaten snack in Europe (58%), bread/sandwiches in the Middle East (47%), ice cream in Latin America (63%) and potato/tortilla crisps in the US (63%).


Chile’s fruit exporters association (ASOEX) has estimated the losses to the country’s exports to China at close to US$100 million. This news was announced at the second meeting of the public-private table where the effects of the coronavirus on Chilean exports to China were analysed. The meeting included chaired the Minister of Foreign Relations, Rodrigo Yañez and the President of the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile AG (ASOEX), Ronald Bown Fernández.

“After the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, there were expectations of a revival in trade. However, on Monday, February 10, only 68 containers of cherries were sold. While in total, during the first 48 hours of operations in the wholesale markets in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and others, only 249 containers of the existing fruit stock in the chain were sold, estimated at 1,500 containers of cherries,” said the President of ASOEX. He added: “The first sales prices have been lower than expected, also in relation to the values ​​reached before the Chinese New Year. We believe that if the current trend were maintained, lower revenues could be projected for the cherry export sector of between US$70 and 80 million. But if we add other fruit species to this, we could reach losses of about US$100 million. However, this could vary depending on how the situation develops. So, we are constantly evaluating the market and conversing with our representatives in China.”

There is also concern about the fruit in transit to China, estimated at 1,600 containers, whose expected arrival dates are between now and March 15. These shipments contain about 59 containers of blueberries, 173 containers of cherries, 872 containers of plums, 387 containers of nectarines, 30 containers of avocados and 134 containers of table grapes. 

The Chilean fruit export industry has adapted its export promotion strategy in China, which includes facilitating the consumption of the basket of fruits exported by Chile, including cherries, blueberries, peas and table grapes, to highlight their nutritional benefits. The consumption of fruits will be promoted via online media and in retail chains and the sector will continue to donate fresh fruit to clinics and health centres. The first delivery will consist of 1,000 1.5 kg boxes of blueberries, donated to the lung hospital of Shanghai.