“Yes, we’ve taken many precautions for COVID-19. But that’s all we can do right now.” Anton Filippo looks worried when he talks about the virus that is spreading rapidly. But a good crisis always creates new opportunities.

Text: Etienne Verhoeff, Anton Filippo | Images: Maaike Petri Fotografie, Unsplash

“My mailbox is filled with questions”, he continues. “Our clients in Europe, big supermarkets, and also overseas have their concerns. Do we have enough fruit for them? What is LBP doing to prevent an outbreak within the company? I understand these questions, but for now we have enough products coming in.” That’s mainly because South America hasn’t been hit by COVID-19 as hard as Europe yet.

But governments are taking precautions. Filippo: “Incoming flights from Europe have been cancelled. Normally fruit comes to LBP with passenger flights with freight capacity. For instance KLM flying back from South America or Africa to Amsterdam. Freight can still come to us by airplane, but the exporters need to find space on Freightliners for instance.”


“Our biggest challenge is people. We can’t all work at home. For instance our packaging department. IT and finance can work at home, but when we need to pack berries, we need our people next to the machines”, Filippo explains. “Production lines are maximized to twelve people, instead of twenty or sometimes fifty.

If we have bigger projects, we split our personnel in groups. Lunches and coffee breaks are done with smaller groups. If somebody has a minor cold, we send them home. There’s only one entrance for everybody. Drivers are thoroughly checked by us. We’ve hired extra staff for cleaning doorknobs and tables. We inform our personnel. And that’s all we can do for now.”

Summer is coming

The COVID-19 crisis is hitting Holland hard. Schools are closed, just like day care, restaurants, bars, sport clubs. The impact is big. But the government has also produced a list of ‘vital companies’. People working in the food chain, like LBP, will have access to day care for their children so they can go to work.


“Another good thing for European consumers, is that the overseas season is coming to an end. The warmer weather in Europe will provide more fruit here. So, LBP can help distributing the European fruits as well. Which is good news for supermarkets. The borders aren’t closed yet so we can transport fruit from other countries the next couple of months.”


Although there’s lot of uncertainty in Europe, LBP is considering their part in the chain. “When our clients and customers have that many questions, we feel that we have to be a partner in advice and information.

That's our service. We’re looking for solutions. We’re getting calls from companies such as airlines that are offering their services. This makes it interesting to see how we can help and stay in business with each other.”