Don't panic: there's no risk of supplies of fresh produce running out in Malaga

More supplies are being delivered than before.
More supplies are being delivered than before. / Salvador Salas
  • More than 100 tonnes of fish, fruit and vegetables are brought to Mercamalaga every day and in many cases prices have dropped

Any fears shoppers have of supplies running out in supermarkets because of the coronavirus crisis would quickly dissipate if they visited the Mercamálaga wholesale market, the biggest supplier of fresh products in the province.

Imagine a space the size of two football stadiums, filled with hundreds of tonnes of fish, shellfish, fruit and vegetables: that is what is brought in to this market every day. In fact, supplies are up 25 per cent compared with last week, says the general manager, Jaime Touchard."The supply of fresh foods is guaranteed," he said.

At 5.15 am, while the city is sleeping before facing another day in lockdown, Mercamálaga seems like another world. The frenetic activity began hours earlier and there is a constant stream of lorries arriving with deliveries.

Some of the produce will be sold to other markets, fishmongers and some supermarkets.

Many people are wearing masks and gloves, but it is difficult for them to keep two metres away from others in the narrow aisles between the stalls. However, the management is asking retailers to order by phone, to keep the number of people on the premises down. Security and cleaning have also been stepped up.

"There is the same amount of business, maybe even more. A lot of people are worried about the risk of contagion, of course, but we are aware of the importance of supplying the population," said Rafael Fernández, who runs Congelados Sanamar.

He doesn't understand "the hysteria in supermarkets".

"There are no problems with supplies, and prices are staying the same, at least for our products," he added.

Vegetables, however, are becoming more expensive, which the manager of Cofruma, Pedro Machuca, blames on panic-buying. "I don't understand the psychosis this has caused. There is plenty of everything as normal," said Francisco Jiménez, who runs a fruit and vegetable stall.

Peppers, tomatoes, onions and potatoes are the best-sellers at present. "It's like a war; food is a priority," said Andrés Rojas of Malaga Natural.

Since the lockdown was first proposed, people started stocking up on basic products and ignoring the more exclusive ones like mango, strawberries and custard apples, which a few days ago were four euros a kilo and now cost half as much. Fish sales have also dropped, especially as bars and restaurants are closed.

"All the food they would normally buy is available for consumers and much of it is cheaper than usual," said Rafael Rodríguez, who runs Pescados Marymar.

Looking at Mercamálaga, there is no need to panic. There is enough food for us all.