Pandemic sparks surge in demand for food hampers

The lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in demand for fruit and vegetable hampers sold directly by local producers to consumers. In the Algarve, some producers are selling four times more products than they did before the pandemic.

According to Público newspaper, the national food hamper network PROVE has been growing across the country, with 7,000 people signed up as clients. The biggest increase has happened in Setúbal, where 900 people have joined the network in the last month alone.

Further south in the Algarve, the number of small farmers that have joined the digital platform Prato Certo – where people can find a list of local farmers – has grown from around 70 to 166 in just the last two weeks, said Artur Gregório from the In Loco association.

“People had to stay home and one of the first questions they asked was ‘how am I going to feed myself?’” organic farmer Alfredo Cunhal Sendim from Herdade do Freixo do Meio in the Alentejo told the paper.

He believes that many people initially joined the network “out of fear” of not being able to buy what they want at the supermarket. However, he believes this crisis could revive the discussion about the importance of purchasing local products and prioritising sustainable agriculture.

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