Hail, high water and lockdown: Europe’s fruit growers prepare for tough harvest

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s been eating more fruit under lockdown, by all accounts. The problem is, it could struggle to find people to pick it. The region’s growers are preparing for upcoming summer and autumn harvests of apples, pears and grapes, including those of the Champagne variety – though they say they may have little to celebrate. Many fear there will be resurgent outbreaks of COVID-19 in parts of Europe – like the current one in Spain – leading to localised lockdowns and the risk they will be cut off from the migrant workers they have long relied on. “We are worried,” said Daniel Sauvaitre, head of a French apple and pear association and deputy head of fruit and vegetable federation Interfel. “We had the manpower we needed for the thinning work in orchards, and the harvest looks pretty good. But we may very well have a country that’s closing again.” COVID-19 cases among agricultural workers, including on some fruit farms in southern France, are adding to concerns, with labourers often living in cramped conditions that make social distancing tough. This was highlighted when more than 70 workers who were picking and packing vegetables tested positive at a farm in… continue reading

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