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Swiss farm fresh delivery service thrives in coronavirus era

By Denis Balibouse and Cecile Mantovani
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Swiss farm fresh delivery service thrives in coronavirus era

A logo of Farmy.ch, an online shop for home delivery of regional and organic products, is pictured on a van during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

By Denis Balibouse and Cecile Mantovani

PRILLY, Switzerland (Reuters) - Business is booming for a Swiss company that provides farm fresh food, as wary buyers shift to more online shopping in the era of coronavirus and movement restrictions.

Switzerland, a neighbour of hard-hit Italy, has imposed border controls, urged people to stay home and summoned army medical teams in the biggest military mobilisation since World War Two to help its beleaguered health care system cope.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Switzerland and Liechtenstein has risen to 3,888, health authorities said on Thursday. Thirty-three people have died from the disease.

Farmy, a delivery service with warehouses in the town of Prilly near Lausanne and in Zurich, has been deluged with orders for home deliveries of its regional and organic products. It offers fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and flowers.

"We've had a very strong increase since about mid-February until today, with a demand for products that has practically quadrupled, notably in demand for dry products for pantry storage. That has increased by about 450%," Farmy spokeswoman Chiara Eckenschwiller told Reuters Television.

Other categories have seen 300% increases, she added.

At one warehouse, Farmy workers wearing protective face masks and gloves loaded delivery bags with vegetables and fruit, tapping at screens to check order details, before placing them in delivery crates ready for loading onto vans.

Swiss shoppers, many of them used to buying produce at outdoor markets that are now banned, are supportive.

"This is the first time and it was especially for the quarantine period, because there are no markets any more, I wanted to support local farmers and also to have local products, I thought it was important to keep that," Chiara Caccivo said.

Local producers, from farmers to butchers and cheese makers, supply Farmy.

"Over the last three weeks, sales have been increasing and this last week they practically doubled. They can't even keep up as people are not able to do their shopping normally. Outdoor markets in cities are banned," said Gilles Roch, owner of a farm "Le Domaine des Biolettes".

Christian Boillat, owner of a confectionery and chocolate shop in Lausanne that supplies Farmy, put a brave face on the crisis.

"I am worried, very worried for our finances, for companies, for our employees, for the survival of our companies. I invested a lot of money in our shops at a period when things worked very well. We might have been a bit crazy, but I think this brings things back to basics," he said.


(Reporting by Denis Balibouse and Cecile Mantovani in Prilly; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by William Maclean)