CEO of smoked salmon and trout smoker Guyader was philosophical in his approach to the crisis.
France is in serious shutdown. While PM Boris Johnson pulled the shutters down on Monday, its Gallic neighbours have been bearing the brunt of the coronavirus for over a week now.
France’s Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Tuesday 8,675 people are currently hospitalised because of Covid-19 – 1,435 more in the last day. Every single restaurant is closed down and retailers are now having to adapt to the huge demand in-home delivery.
SalmonBusiness talked to Christian Guyader, President of the countries’ major suppliers of smoked salmon and trout, which employs 150 people and is one of France’s only salmon processors to have a Label Rouge.
A family company, which has had its roots in fish since the 1930s, Christian Guyader took back the reigns from former CEO Antoine Gorioux last year.
“In France since a week, we have been in this crisis, a lockdown,” said Guyader from the company’s base in Châteauneuf-du-Faou, Brittany, north-western France.
He said that there had been up “an uptick in demand but this had started to quiet down as people’s fridges got full”.
The CEO said that operations were now running for only three days instead of five. Salmon from Ireland, France and Scotland is still coming in without issues.
In normal times, up to 100 tonnes, a week are produced a week at its Châteauneuf-du-Faou plant to all of France’s biggest supermarkets such as Leclerc, Intermarché and Carrefour.
“We are in a war situation, the fighters on the front line are nurses and doctors, but food workers have a role to play in the battle. A society that eats well and healthy will avoid overflows,” he said.
Guyader said he was talking to his plant workers like he would a captain on the deck using his background as a professional sailor to do so. “I explained to our workers, the stress, about taking precautions, everyone needs to and understand this difficult period”.
Asked how the company – which is 90 this year – will unfold, he said this is the real question. “This crisis is worldwide, what state will the economy be in. Smoking fish will go on, we are confident about the future, and happy people will look for pleasure in life.
“Soldiers are now the medics, but we are happy in playing our part in the war effort,” he added.