Coronavirus crisis: Produce industry struggling with glut, lack of buyers amid restaurant shutdowns

Produce companies have seen business heavily decline, both in the U.S. and Mexico, leaving many farmers with a surplus of their product.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the produce industry is becoming more and more stark, with the lack of buyers is affecting produce companies and farmers.

There is plenty of produce at local markets, just not enough buyers. Restaurants were some of the biggest customers. With many shutdown because of the coronavirus, produce companies and farmers are now struggling.

"Perishable items so you can't really hold produce for over a week or two, so either you're going to use it fresh, or freeze it or but, you know, I don't think everyone's got like a big freezer so you can freeze a lot of stuff," said Pedro Astorga, president of Listo Produce.

Listo produce has seen a 50 percent drop in sales, and that's putting pressure on farmers not just in the U.S., but Mexico too.

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"Every industry of every fruit works the same, you know, they're sending little by little, but as far as the production it has gone down a lot," said Jaime Herrera with the Los Angeles Produce Association.

Production goes down and a lot of the produce that's already grown ends up rotting, going to waste, and those in the industry are convinced the losses will put some out of business.

"The company that survive will be the big ones and the little growers that have one or three acres will be the ones that go out of business," said Herrera.

Listo Produce is not one if the big ones, but they're not giving up.

"There's gonna be a way to come out, you know. It's never gonna be the same, pretty much it's a game changer," said Astorga.

A new game for farmers, distributors and consumers, and no one is really sure what the fruits of their labor will yield in the future.
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