Prices are down by 15-20% at the Gothenburg auction in Sweden, where business continues as usual – with precautions.
According to the auction’s managing director Roger Thilander, nothing has changed in the way the auction operates, except that there are new rules that have been put in place as precautions against Covid-19.
‘We aren’t allowing in anyone from outside. We normally run guided tours for visitors and school groups, but that has all stopped. We have also added washing stations and alcohol hand gel stations to maintain hygiene levels. People are using gloves, and we are also placing the boxes further apart on the auction floor so people can keep a distance,’ he said.
He commented that they have been receiving smaller volumes of fish and shellfish.
‘But this is more to do with the weather than corona,’ he said, adding that smaller amounts mean prices are reasonable – and there are variations between species.
‘There are no exports at the moment, so prices have dropped for some products. Prices for Norway lobster (nephrops) and pike-perch have fallen sharply with a significant reduction. Overall, prices are 15-20% down,’ he said.
He added that some days the shrimp price has also dropped below its usual level.
‘But we eat a lot of shrimp in Sweden so this is not a big problem. The home market takes care of this,’ he said.
‘Our concern is for the wholesalers, as if they have a problem then we will have a problem as well. But so far, so good. We’re taking this day by day.’
Unlike much of Europe, Sweden does not have a strict lockdown situation, so to a great extent life goes on as usual. But there is now a ban on gatherings of more than fifty people in public places, revised from the initial 500 limit.
Even without restrictions, the restaurant trade has been hit and the effects are felt further down the chain of supply.
‘We have customers who supply mainly restaurants and the catering trade, and some have seen 89-90% of their customers disappear. People are being cautious and aren’t eating out in restaurants like they usually do,’ he said.
‘We’re taking things day by day, trying to stay ahead, talking to our customers so everyone is informed. Our auction staff have to be here, but the office staff are working from home, so we have half the staff on site and half working remotely. Our customers are being cautious, and we are doing the same.’