A series of articles on the RURAL magazine website giving information on how the food, farming and fisheries sector of the Island’s economy is coping with the problems caused by coronavirus. The first of these has been sent to us by WILLIAM CHURCH, sales and marketing director of the Jersey Royal Co Ltd
CORONAVIRUS has affected The Jersey Royal Company, just as it has done every other business on the Island.
We have introduced a number of measures to safeguard our staff, and to ensure that workers maintain safe social distances.
In the fields we are working with smaller teams and the journeys to and from the field involve fewer workers travelling on each trip in a bus. Minibuses and portable field toilets are sanitised daily, and more managerial time is spent making sure that people stick to all guidelines.
We are fortunate in some respects that we house all of our workers in many different accommodation blocks across the Island and so can control their segregation through that, as each household can be treated as its own ‘family’.
We have introduced a bulk buying service with one of the local retailer businesses to reduce the need of workers to have to go to the supermarket.
We issue face masks and gloves where appropriate and recommended. All communication and guidelines from the Government of Jersey are translated and distributed to workers as and when they are issued.
Office workers have been working remotely for over three weeks now.
Modifications have been made in the pack-house such as erecting Perspex barriers to separate workers who would otherwise be in close contact.
Our labour situation is stretched as the last 10% of workers expected in will now not arrive, but fortunately we had already invested heavily in automation in the pack-house during the off-season, and those new systems will be tested to the full!
The situation does of course bring its many challenges, and this all follows on from what was a tortuous early planting period due to excessive and relentless wet weather. That said, we remain optimistic for the season ahead and have been able to restructure supply and promotion programmes with leading customers. For now I think that the demand for our produce will be as strong as ever as alternative carbohydrates (i.e rice and pasta) will become harder to get hold of, and I also hope that with more people staying at home and having more time together as families that customers will again look to get back in the kitchen and be more creative with fresh produce.