Food production and distribution systems

Igor: In Slovenia we are not in the situation of full lock down as in Italy or Belgium, we are still allowed to go out but self isolation measures are encouraged. We do not seem to face food shortage issues at the moment, there is enough food in the stores, but obviously there was an anxious race to the supermarkets to buy up food in the past week. In Slovenia the government suggested specific times for people to go to do the shopping, especially for the elderly, in order to ensure that people don’t all go at the same time. 

Francesco highlighted how in Italy there are currently great challenges in relation to food production because most of the production food system is based on migrant workers. Currently these people, already because of the new migration law, have now stopped working in the fields because of the COVID-19 emergency. This could mean that there will not be enough people picking and planting our food this year. Furthermore, these people work in terrible conditions, often illegally, and in unhealthy living conditions, as they live in slums with no water, under great risks. 

What is happening on the ground?

Marcelline: In the retail sector, intermediaries still need to adjust to quantities being asked by shops. Shops have adjusted their ways of working in, including sanitary and distancing rules. In most countries as well, these are necessary sectors and sellers don’t have access to financial support for  unemployment: they (sometimes) need to support aggressive customers and (sometimes) face their own fears of being contaminated. Yet, shops make their best figures: as such, supermarkets in Spain have raised salaries by 20%.

Restaurants are closed. City or private-led platforms put them in contact with consumers for delivery or pick-up, with similar approaches for canteens and some markets. Other markets, in Spain and France, get exceptions for being opened.

FOOD SYSTEM IN COVID-19. IMAGE (C) MARCELLINE BONNEAU

Igor: Here in Slovenia all not necessary shops have been closed down but food shops are still open, despite their opening times have been reduced. The number of people entering the sops at the time are limited, with a guard at the entrance, which ensures that people don’t crowd especially at the counter. The farmers’ markets are open, even though not all stalls and not for the whole time. Even the neighbouring municipality to Maribor announced just yesterday that the farmers’ market will be open on a regular basis. This means that producers can sell their products and consumers can buy, according to the social distancing measures, even though these are more flexible in the market as this is in the open air. To my knowledge, there is no shortage of food at the moment, maybe some specific products.