In #5questionsto we ask questions to admirable persons in the seed industry. This time, with a slightly different approach. We’ve asked 5 questions to Ruud Brinkkemper, General Manager at PanAmerican Seed, about the impact of Covid-19 on the company.

#5QuestionsTo Ruud Brinkkemper, General Manager of PanAmerican Seed

PanAmerican Seed is a breeding company and producer of summer annuals, biennials, perennials, potted plants, special cut flowers, and they also have a vegetable and herb assortment. The company operates internationally. In addition to a research facility in Hem, there are also research facilities in North- and South America. What impact does the virus have on their international trade? Which cases remain unaffected? Can students still apply for an internship or job? Read the interview below.

What kind of effect does Covid-19 have on your company?
The effects are quite big of course. For the execution of our work as well as on the sale of our seeds. Employees have been sick, but absenteeism still seems to be alright. We all kinds of ornamental plant seeds: cut flowers, potted plants, and garden plants. A large part of our season is already over, meaning that the sales of the seeds have ended. So we now have to wait and see how our customers are doing. This differs in every country. Some companies are having a hard time right now because they usually make their turnover in spring. That will affect our season and that of next year.

Is there anything unaffected by the virus within the company?
Honestly, everything is influenced by these bizarre circumstances. But I am very proud that the work continues as usual. There is a great sense of togetherness. The rules are followed very well and the essential parts of the company continue as usual. What often is seen in times of crisis is that more garden plants are sold, because more people stay at home.

What impact does the virus have on your international trade?
That varies greatly per region. First of all, travel between our companies has now completely stopped. We do a lot of product development,
which makes it difficult to visit trial fields. We try to come up with all kinds of solutions. For example, by working more digitally. We see that trade with China is already picking up again. In the US, trade is also going quite well, concerning the current circumstances. The crisis is not yet at its peak there. In Europe, certain markets are still in lockdown, while others are opening up again cautiously.

Can students still apply for a job/internship?
Absolutely! We are still open for internships. The current interns continue their activities as well. We will also continue to fill in open positions. I would say: business as usual.

What will business look like next year?
I think and I hope that everything is mainly over and back to what it was like six months ago. A number of things will certainly change. For example, we now deal with online meetings. That’s here to stay.  The production and sale of certain products may change temporarily in the near future. Of course, there may also be a demand for certain products, which may even increase the sales of a number of products. We do a lot of product development at this location in the Netherlands. This is a long-term plan, that will not change because of Covid-19.

Want to read more #5QuestionsTo? See our previous interviews here.