1. What impression has 2020 left on Citrosol from a business point of view?
The pandemic made 2020 a complicated year for virtually everyone, there were moments of real uncertainty and we had to redesign our methods of working throughout the company to be able to continue innovating whilst serving our clients in the best way possible, which was even more complicated when talking of those beyond our borders. Despite everything, 2020 was, once again, a year of growth in which we increased sales by more than 7%.
2. Having overcome one of the toughest times brought on by the effects of the health crisis, what is the ‘roadmap’ envisioned by Citrosol now for 2021?
Roadmap variations with respect to 2020 are principally those that the health crisis has brought about, some of which are here to stay. Those related to the increase in the importance of digital corporate communication are particularly relevant; we have had to review both our external and internal communication strategy, each of paramount importance to realize the company’s objectives. This year we have organized several “online” events at an international level to publicize our newest developments and the truth is that they are awakening a huge interest.
3. Is Citrosol planning to embark on any new projects or to launch any new product developments? If so, what are they?
Our R&D+i Department is continuously working on the development of new projects, the last campaign saw the launch of our range of Biocare products including the PlantSeal® and PlantSeal® Shine Free coatings, the first coatings in Europe authorized for use in organic farming and the range is being very well received. This campaign has just seen the launch of our CI-control coatings, formulated to reduce, or even eliminate, marking caused by chilling injury during extended cold storage or prolonged refrigerated shipments.
We are currently preparing the release to market of our Citrocide® Fresh-Cut system for Fresh-Cut and minimally processed produce, which will improve food safety and reduce industrial water consumption in the minimally processed fruit and vegetable washing process.
4. Why this bet when launching new projects?
Anyone who knows us appreciates that Citrosol is always working on new projects, to develop evermore sustainable solutions with the objective of obtaining the best results for our clients. It is an integral part of our values and we dedicate as much effort as possible toward it.
5. What forecasts are Citrosol contemplating with respect to its business activity? How do you expect customers to behave within the horticultural market itself?
We have already established our leadership in postharvest technology nationally, within the Mediterranean basin and in Peru, but we would like to lead in the rest of the producing countries.
At the same time, we continue working on the development of new markets where, until now, they have been unable to solve postharvest problems as the origin of major faults apparent at destination; we are referring to pepper, tomato and minimally processed produce.
It is essential to know your client well and respond to their needs at the same time as contributing to a reduction in wasted food.
In response to your second question, we see that currently there is a trend by consumers, which is being passed along the distribution chains towards exporters, to demand products that are not treated with synthetic fungicides, so-called “zero residue”, but currently there isn’t any legislation to regulates them which is why we are developing Biocare by Citrosol, a product line certified as an input for organic farming, to respond to this need.
6. What changes to the operation of the company has the pandemic provoked?
Well, there have been many, but fortunately they are working very well. At first, we developed a plan of action with a series of measures that worked perfectly without interrupting the usual activity of the company whilst, at the same time, ensuring the safety of our employees utilizing strict hygiene measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19.
The majority of these measures involved remote working in all areas where this was possible, telematic meetings, both internally and with our clients, and the establishment of shiftwork within the production areas of the company.
Currently these measures remain in force, but with appropriate updates, as the virus situation has evolved, such as the introduction of taking the temperature of each employee as they arrive at work and the ventilation of closed spaces.
Remote working in some form and in special situations along with telematic meetings are significant changes which will most probably remain. We have seen that they are providing a new way of working whilst maintaining the productivity of the company and the safety of our staff.
In addition, as I have previously mentioned, we have increased the role of digital corporate communication and we are undertaking various webinars for our clients and prescribers benefit and are very satisfied with the response they are receiving.
7. What objectives have been set out for the end of this new year, 2021?
Our main objective is to continue growing. Something we have been achieving year after year thanks to our innovations, which make us capable of attracting new clients and to strengthen our existing relationships. Our postharvest solutions, evermore effective and sustainable, are closing the gap that exists between laboratory results, which are usually very good, and industrial results, thus mitigating industrial variability.
8. Do you believe that the sector will emerge from the crisis in better shape or will the changes have been difficult to assume for some companies?
When there are changes, there are always companies which find it hard to adjust and may end up being adversely affected, but in general the behavior of the horticultural sector has been exceptional and surely will emerge strengthened. The sector has adapted very well to the new situation, maintaining a continuous supply of fresh, safe and healthy products during the pandemic, despite the difficulties of finding labor, logistic limitations at certain times and additional costs in the supply chain.
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