There was panic yesterday in Rungis when a fire broke out at France's largest fresh produce market. A massive column of black smoke hung over the city all day. It was caused by a blaze that broke out in the late morning in the heart of the MIN de Rungis, in an 8,000m2 fruit and vegetable warehouse. About 100 firefighters and more than 30 fire trucks battled the flames. Fortunately, there were no injuries and the fire was quickly brought under control. Nonetheless, the blaze completely destroyed the Halles Mandar packing warehouse.
"Our warehouse burnt down," confirmed the Les Halles Mandar group's employees in a LinkedIn post. Every day, 213 people work in shifts there to prepare vegetable, fruit, and herb orders for thousands of customers from the restaurant, supermarket, cash & carry, and e-commerce sectors in Paris, Ile-de-France, and the French provinces.
According to Le Figaro, a French daily morning newspaper, wooden pallets caught fire, after which flames quickly swept through the building. "The fire destroyed the area where we prepare custom orders for our clients in the hospitality and other sectors," the president of Halles Mandar, Shaoul Abramczyk, told the French news agency AFP. "We're shocked but glad there were no injuries."
Stéphane Layani released a press statement yesterday: "As CEO of Rungis International Market, I'd like to express my solidarity and support for Les Halles Mandar, which has been severely affected by this fire. This warehouse's destruction is a great loss. The Rungis market will resume operations tomorrow. Even so, such a strategy befalling a vendor affects the entire market at its core."
Although Halles Mandar cannot fill its clients' orders at Rungis today or for a while, the MIN resumed its activities today. The issue is central to this morning's talks. Some vendors, however, say business should continue as usual and that the fire had "absolutely no impact" on the physical market. The affected warehouse is also quite far from the trading area.
Nico Schaft of 888 Fruitcompany confirms that. He has been trading at this Paris wholesale market for years. "The fruit and vegetable supply hasn't been endangered. The fire was limited to the Halles Mandar building, which is at the exit of the wholesale market, about 300 meters from the wholesale market. Trade and traffic continued, as usual, this morning. Still, Halles Mandar has been hugely affected."
"I've known these people for 30 years and sympathize with them. They used to be the only company with Carmel herbs in the market. They specialize in supplying hotels and restaurants in Paris, so they also buy a lot from the other wholesalers at Rungis. They saw their life's work go up in smoke all at once. It will take years to rebuild all that, there's also little room on the market to set up elsewhere," Nico concludes.