Fruca Marketing is located in Murcia, Spain. It has an extensive product range. That consists of lettuce, (water)melon, citrus, and bell peppers. The lettuce and bell pepper seasons have started now. "We're in a transition period. Next week or the week after, most of our clients will switch to Spanish produce," says Mariska de Zoete. She's been working in the company's sales department for almost ten years.
"The season is characterized by uncertainty because of the coronavirus. Some countries, like the Netherlands and Belgium, have closed their hospitality industry already. Other countries are about to close this down. That will affect sales. However, our supermarket clients are currently selling more. So, that compensates reasonably well. We had some doubts after the first wave. We were considering planting less iceberg lettuce. But in the end, we didn't. We expect the same numbers as in other years."
"The anti-corona measures will affect harvesting and packaging. People have to keep more distance, and you can transport fewer people at a time. People always have to work in the same groups too. So, not everyone works and eats together. The chance of spreading the virus is, therefore, limited. The workers' temperatures are also taken upon arrival. So, we're on top of things. That does mean additional costs, which aren't automatically covered. It comes down to whether clients are willing to pay a little extra," says Mariska.
1,650 ha of iceberg lettuce
Fruca Marketing's lettuce acreage comprises not only 1,650ha of iceberg lettuce. They also have 200ha hectare little gems and mini Romaine and 70ha of Romaine lettuce. About 200 hectares are used for the other lettuce specialties. The total endive area is 90ha, with 454ha of bell peppers. Of this, 142 hectares are in Morocco. There are 287 hectares in Murcia and Almeria in Spain. There, they grow bell peppers using traditional methods. Then there are 25 hectares of high-tech cultivation, also in Murcia.
"Our cultivation and export experience means we know what specifications our sales countries expect," says Mariska. She's responsible for exports to, among others, the British market. "There's no agreement yet with England, so Brexit is another uncertain factor. We export quite a bit to the UK. That could, therefore, have quite an impact. But we can't properly anticipate what it might be either. Not as long as we don't know how things will turn out."
Cardboard bell pepper packaging
"Other than that, everything going as usual. The advantage is that we work with food every day. People need it, regardless. We're currently making efforts to reduce our footprint too. We want to reduce plastic use. One of the things we're introducing this season is new, cardboard bell pepper packaging," concludes Mariska.