Vacherin Fribourgeois PDO, testimony of Christian Duc

Director of Vacherin Fribourgeois SA in Bulle and member of the industry, Mr Duc answered questions from the Vacherin Fribourgeois PDO interprofession.

How has the current situation impacted your activity?

We immediately had to implement the FOPH measures and therefore reorganise our work. We didn’t have much information, so we had to continue to run the business while ensuring the safety of our staff. But the most important consequence for us was the closure of the restaurants, our main customers for fondue. We had to stop deliveries and even take back goods already delivered. Fortunately, we had a big customer who ordered a lot of fondue, so we were able to sell the fresh goods.

Do you have any figures on the drop in production?

Fondue sales have dropped by almost 80% compared to the same period last year. If the almost summery weather played a role, it is clear that the pandemic, the closure of restaurants and ski resorts had a big impact. Sales of Vacherins Fribourgeois AOP fell by around 25%.

Did you experience any positive effects of the crisis?

We had projects already on the table, such as an online shop and the installation of a vending machine, and this situation pushed us to complete them. It was a forced break that allowed us to settle some issues that we kept putting off. This quieter period also allowed me to think about new ways of selling and consuming cheese and to work on new ideas.

On a personal level, how do you feel?

There have been no cases in my circle, nor in my business, which has been very good news. The slowing down of life has been good, I think this time has allowed many people to recover, to rediscover essential things, to better apprehend the future.

How do you think consumption will evolve in the coming years?

At the beginning, everyone was a bit afraid because we didn’t have much information about the virus. Consumers were even afraid to eat fondue. But I’m quite optimistic in general, I think humans have the ability to forget their fears quite quickly. There will be scars, but life will start again and in my opinion, the habit of eating fondue will slowly return.

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