The E. coli crisis will always be remembered by the sector. The poor crisis management affected our producers for a long time. All of them suffered the consequences but two Andalusian companies were particularly struck. Frunet and Costa de Almería were unfairly charged of being responsible for the bacterial contamination that resulted in fifty-six fatalities in Germany.
How to overcome such a situation? That must have been wondering Antonio Lavao, Frunet manager, for a while. ‘We had German customers who wanted to acquire our products but could not as we had been banished from the country.’ In those times we considered every possibility: shutting down, shutting down and then re-opening with a new name… But no, we just stood up and started working with renewed enthusiasm’, explains Lavao. The manager does not conceal his satisfaction after the agreement reached with the Hamburger Regional Government (Germany), by means of which both companies will receive a compensation. Lavao does not want to reveal the compensation’s extent but confirms his full satisfaction.
Frunet is today a completely different company to that of 2011. It is stronger, better organised, and more diversified. It was necessary to start from scratch, to open new markets, new product lines, but always keeping their brand. They never considered changing it, as they had nothing to hide or to be ashamed of.
Presently, their invoicing reaches €40 million, they have grown in volume and marketing of organic produce, they have developed a line of exotic product, and they operate in new markets. ‘We are more efficient hence I am sticking to the positive aspects of the E. coli crisis’, added Lavao.
All this despite acknowledging they did not feel the authorities’ support. What he did mention once and again was the support of a producer sector which was not ready for the events and suffered extensive losses because of the bad image projected in Europe.