Danish seafood giant Espersen is "slowly but surely" reopening its processing facility in Vietnam, after being forced to shutter the plant for 10 weeks.
The company -- which has factories in Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Vietnam as well as offices in UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Malaysia, and China -- fell victim to Vietnam's strict measures for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The authorities closed down whole regions completely, including all factories.
"We just resumed production a few weeks ago," Klaus Nielsen, CEO of Espersen, told IntraFish. "I think that everybody has been caught to some extent by the COVID situation."
While the priority was on keeping staff safe -- all were sent home at first -- it was also about securing value on the products, said Nielsen.
"We shipped out all the finished goods, and we ultimately allowed 20 people living on the plant 24/7 for two weeks," he said.
At the same time, the company had incoming goods coming from Europe, cold storage was reaching capacity and there was a lot of raw material just sitting in the ports.
"We are still not at full speed but gradually, through very close dialogue with the authorities, we started at 30 percent, then we were at 50 percent, and we expect to be at 80 percent capacity in November.
"So slowly but surely we are opening up, but we have a lot of procedures and processes we have to respect and have agreed with the authorities," he said.
The problems in Vietnam are far from over however.
Since May 31, travel between different provinces has been restricted and since July 9, factories must keep workers inside the premises at all times if they want to continue operating. As a result many factories have had to close and others have had to reduce capacity significantly.
"Southeast Asia is in a totally different place to where we are in the EU," said Nielsen. "Here we think it is over, but that’s not the case in big parts of the rest of the world."