The COVID-19 crisis is a concern for Chilean industries, not only regarding their international commitments, but also the health of their collaborators and product safety; characteristics that have allowed Chile to position itself internationally as a reliable food supplier.
The Chilean Ministry of Agriculture declared its activity as an essential service, which resulted in a compilation of recommendations and measures in agricultural and packaging practices. These conditions prevent contagions and the spread of COVID-19. Likewise, the Chilean Agency for Food Quality and Safety (ACHIPIA), prepared a document providing advice and best practices to protect the health of workers in plants while processing and packaging fruits and vegetables.
Below are the measures that various agricultural industries have taken amid the global pandemic.
Agroindustry: Chilealimentos, the Association of Food Companies of Chile, composed mainly of companies from the agribusiness and processed food subsectors, has indicated that they are in communication with essential companies regarding production, such as laboratories and certifiers, allowing the continuation of production and exports. Additionally, they established an industry-wide security protocol to maintain traceability and are in constant communication with the Ministry of Agriculture to track any obstacles.
Work hours have been reduced to implement the safety and health protocols, and each plant contains temperature centers, disinfected shared spaces, and monitored bus stops.
The union ensures that production and work will continue to meet commitment and import requirements.
Dairy Products: Exporlac, the Association of Exporters of Dairy Products, states that it has been able to meet its international commitments, and has implemented safety and health protocols to continue production. Additionally, they highlight that they have not had logistical problems, thus complying with their shipments.
Olive Oil: ChileOliva reported that their annual harvest was successful and followed all standards to maintain the quality of their extra virgin product that they primarily export to the Nothern Hemisphere. Their employees activated the procedure manuals throughout all partner companies in the industry chain, preventing contamination by avoiding contagions and sanitizing all common areas.
Wines: The wine industry has taken a hit during the crisis, especially since the HORECA channel is closed in much of the world. Despite the obstacles, grape harvests were safely conducted by following all the protocols and monitoring employee labor.
Pork and Poultry: ExpoCarnes has not reported problems in the export process and continues to work with its target markets while abiding by safety requirements. Out of concern for the safety of their workers, the organization implemented shift systems and security protocols. Administrative teams are working remotely while and plants and farms have implemented deferred operator hours. They are guaranteeing all measures to maintain the highest quality and safety standards of their products and their traceability.
Dried Plums and Dried Fruit: These industries are represented by Chile Prunes, the Association of Dried Plum Companies, and by Chilenuts.
According to the union, there have been no difficulties in the shipment of dehydrated plums. Additionally, the production and logistics chain is operating normally. Managers continually monitor their employees to avoid contagion, and sanitation services have been contracted for plants, warehouses, and common spaces such as dressing rooms and dining halls.
Nut harvests continue without interruption. The union ensures that employees remain protected with the reduction of common space occupancy, the implementation of sanitary training, and additional security measures.
They emphasize that the association is engaged in maintaining industry operation, taking all necessary safeguards to ensure the safety of its employees and products.
Fresh Fruit: This sector is represented by the Association of Fruit Exporters (Asoex) and by the Federation of Fruit Producers of Chile, Fedefruta. Both associations indicate that production is moving forward safely and uninterruptedly while they continue to fulfill all commitments.
Asoex prepares a daily bulletin with the status of exports regarding the national and international updates. All companies are working to safeguard the health of workers and their mental health. Additionally, protocols and best practice guidelines have been developed, both for processing plants and for the supply chain. Although fruit production always occurs under controlled atmospheres and temperatures, plants have also been sanitized to maintain clean environments for their workers.
The industry is committed to maintaining this vital chain for domestic and international markets.
Seeds: This industry is represented by the National Association of Seed Producers, ANPROS, who reports that the sector has fulfilled all international commitments. They also note that hygiene and health measures have been implemented in the handling, processing, and packaging processes. They developed protocols to combat COVID-19, which have been adopted by associated companies to maintain the safety of their products.
Nurseries: Represented by the Chilean Association of Fruit Nurseries, this industry is subject to the regulations of the destination countries, so they have been working to extend the life of their plants.
Regarding the safety of their workers, they have taken all the measures imposed by the health authority such as the disinfection of products and workplaces, safe transportation options, and the reduction of workers per shift.
They ensure that their distribution chain will not stop, taking all possible safeguards to continue meeting their commitments.
Flowers: This industry is represented by the Association of Flower Bulb Exporters, which have indicated that they are not currently exporting since harvest occurs in late May. In preparation, they have implemented security measures for their workers, taking all the necessary safeguards.
Fishing: The National Fisheries Society (SONAPESCA) has stated that the local sector is responding in solidarity with the community. The most affected area is Biobío, the south center of the country, where companies have taken measures to continue with their exports. In general, international commitments are being fulfilled.
Regarding health, they have taken out insurance for their workers and are carrying out sanitary measures. They have also donated provisions to communities in need.
The fishing industry is under constant review and works to continue operating and meeting commercial commitments.
Salmon: According to Salmon Chile, salmon companies have implemented different prevention measures to take care of their employees and the different communities in the southern area of Chile. To this end, they have created the “Committed to the South” campaign to generate actions to strengthen sanitary barriers in Araucanía, Chiloé and Aysén and the voluntary sanitation of public spaces, installation of tunnels and sanitizing arches, in addition to the creation of a $2 billion health fund.
In addition, they point out that product safety is one of the most relevant areas of the industry’s work, and they carry it out under a demanding global standard.