Flowers Foods – bread sales surge revealed
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General Mills chief talks brands, recession, foodservice and M&A – seven things to learn
An analysis piece on the site this afternoon, covering the appearance of General Mills president and CEO Jeff Harmening – down a web cam – at BMO Capital Markets’ annual Farm to Market Conference, which, for obvious reasons, was held virtually this year.
General Mills this week lifted its forecasts on a couple of key sales and profit metrics after seeing US pantry-loading boost demand. On Wednesday (13 May), Harmening outlined to investors what the soup-to-yogurt maker was seeing in its domestic market and discussed a range of issues, from the revival of big brands and the slump in foodservice to China’s early recovery and the company’s thoughts on M&A. In this piece, Dean Best presents the top takeaways.
US baker Flowers Foods reveals Covid-19 sales surge
Flowers Foods, the US bakery business behind brands such as Nature’s Own, Wonder and Dave’s Killer Bread, has seen its sales boosted by consumers stocking up on bread during the Covid-19 crisis.
Following the release of its Q1, 2020 results, which revealed net sales of US$1.34bn – an increase of 6.8% year-on-year – company CEO Ryals McMullian told analysts “the current situation is certainly unlike anything we’ve ever seen”.
He said that during the peak of demand in March its weekly branded retail sales growth exceeded 70% versus the prior year.
“One major retailer reported that more than two million households tried our brands for the first time during the quarter. That’s just one retailer,” he said.
Opinion: Don’t write off emerging brands amid Big Food’s Covid-19 bounce
In his latest column for just-food, US industry veteran Victor Martino discussed how Big Food’s legacy brands are having their day in the sun in the US, boosted by pantry-loading.
“The big question,” Victor wrote, “and everybody in the industry is speculating about it is whether the outsized sales gains legacy brands have been experiencing over the last few months are merely a by-product of consumer stockpiling or if the sales surge is signalling a renewed era for big CPG brands. Are big CPG brands back?
“Linked to that,” he continued, “is another question: does the current resurgence of legacy brands mean the emerging brands’ insurgency against legacy brands over the last 20 years is coming to an end or, at least, is in the process of becoming greatly diminished?”
In his column, Victor argues challenger brands can still – and will – compete with their newly-revived Big Food legacy-brand competitors.
SMEs will emerge from Covid-19 stronger, says UK challenger brand champion Young Foodies
And here in the UK this afternoon, London-based Young Foodies, which operates as a network and a consultancy for around 1,100 food and drink SMEs, argued small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and drink sectors will emerge from the Covid-19 crisis well-prepared to prosper.
Theadora Alexander, co-founder of Young Foodies said although the current picture is “highly fragmented” and some smaller brands have lost self space as retailers have sought to keep the shops stocked with everyday items, she believes the future is rosy.
“The good news for smaller brands is that consumer ethics and values feel stronger than ever and they are looking to support independent businesses and small traders,” she told the FUTR Live webcast today (14 May). “There is a huge opportunity for SMEs because they are more nimble and can move more quickly than their larger counterparts.”
Foodservice giant Bidcorp in China direct-to-consumer push
Bidcorp’s Asia foodservice business, Angliss Asia, has described a new online business-to-consumer platform in China as a key growth area for the company.
Speaking as part of hospitality network Arena’s webinar series, Angliss Asia CEO Johnny Kang said the platform was developed in response to consumer trends under Covid-19 lockdown. However, as China comes out of quarantine, Kang said the company’s B2C operations form “one of our future growth areas”.
Covid-19 – Meat supplier Moy Park confirms employee death
Moy Park, the Northern Ireland-based poultry processor, has confirmed the death of an employee from Covid-19 at its plant in County Tyrone.
The member of staff worked at the company’s facility on Killington Road, Dungannon.
A spokesperson for Moy Park, which is owned by US-based poultry firm Pilgrim’s Pride, said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our team members. The terrible impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to greatly affect everyone’s daily lives throughout our community.
“As we have consistently stated, the health, wellbeing and safety of our Moy Park team members is always our most important consideration.”
Premium Brands Holdings suspends M&A activity, with at least 20 targets on table
Canada’s Premium Brands Holdings, the acquisitive food manufacturer that has built its business on M&A, has its eyes on securing at least another 20 deals.
However, any further closing of pipeline transactions, with five in the “advanced” stage, have been suspended for the time being due to Covid-19, according to a slide presentation at Premium Brands’ annual general meeting.
Court orders Brazilian meat giant BRF to close plant
A court in Rio Grande do Sul has ordered BRF, the Brazil-based meat and prepared foods giant, to close one of its factories in a bid to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in the country’s southernmost state.
Tyson reports scores of Covid-19 cases at Portland, Maine, plant
US meat giant Tyson Foods has said 51 employees at its poultry plant in Portland, Maine, have tested positive for coronavirus.
The plant has now re-opened after being closed for deep cleaning.
All three of Hormel Foods’ Jennie-O Turkey Stores have now reopened
Hormel Foods said all three of its Jennie-O Turkey Store plants in Minnesota have now reopened, with the Willmar Avenue facility the latest to recommence operations.
Last week, the US-based meat business said its Benson Avenue and Melrose factories, both in Minnesota, had restarted following a voluntary pause due to Covid-19 infections.
As with the Benson Avenue and Melrose manufacturing facilities, Hormel said late yesterday (12 May) that operations at Willmar Avenue have restarted with a “core group of team members”, with production to be increased “over the coming days”.
Butterball confirms employee death
Butterball, the US turkey processor, has confirmed one of its staff working at Mount Olive facility in North Carolina, where an unconfirmed number of staff have tested positive for Covid-19, has passed away.
“We can confirm that we were informed on May 7 of the sudden passing of a valued team member from our Mount Olive plant, but have not been informed of the specific cause. We respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time and extend our deepest sympathies,” a Butterball spokesperson said.
Two weeks ago, local media reports suggested almost 60 staff at the facility had come down with the virus but neither Butterball or officials within the local Duplin County have confirmed numbers.
The Butterball spokesperson added yesterday: “Because this has been a fluid situation, and some individuals have recovered and returned to work, we do not feel a total number is an accurate representation of what is happening on the ground. The plant remains open and operational, and we continue to work closely with the Duplin County Health Department to help us manage any Covid-19 cases.”
Cargill ‘registers six Covid-19 cases at Brazil plant’
US agri-food giant Cargill has reportedly seen six of its workers at a plant in Brazil test positive for coronavirus.
According to a statement from Cargill, quoted by news agency Reuters, most of the employees diagnosed with the respiratory disease at its plant in Uberlândia in south east Brazil have already returned to work after receiving medical attention.
Cargill, which processes soybean and corn at the site, said that, thus far, it has had no interruptions in Brazilian operations due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Uberlândia facility employs between 1,300 and 1,400 people.
Irish meat plants Covid-19 cases exceed 500
Ireland has seen the number of positive Covid-19 cases within its meat processing plants top 500.
Answering a request from just-food, the Irish Department of Health said as of today (13 May) there have been 12 Covid-19 “clusters” in meat processing plants notified to public health officials.
UK meat industry body BMPA warns of price hikes
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) is warning that food prices may have to increase because of “spiralling freight costs” during the current Covid-19 crisis.
In a statement issued today, it said there is evidence of a doubling and in some cases nearly tripling of maritime freight costs over the last month from exporters across the food supply chain.
“The current price hikes which have persisted from early March are starting to look like opportunistic exploitation by a small group of large global companies which control that market,” it said.
“As early as mid-March, reports were coming in that the congestion in Chinese ports had eased, with terminal operations returning to more normal working conditions. Indeed Shanghai, the world’s largest container port by volume had expanded its capacity for handling and storage of refrigerated containers by 40%.
“As exporters of food supplies, we’re not asking for special treatment from shippers, but we are asking them to strike an equitable balance on pricing and not exploit an already dire situation.”
Pilgrim’s Pride ‘facing Covid-19 issues’ at Minnesota plant
US meat heavyweight Pilgrim’s Pride is said to be facing worker complaints at a Minnesota poultry processing plant linked to an outbreak of Covid-19.
Germany’s Westfleisch closes plant hit by Covid-19
Westfleisch, one of Germany’s largest meat processors, has closed its plant at Coesfield, near the western German city of Munster, following a Covid-19 outbreak amongst its workforce.
According to multiple media outlets in Germany, the company has shuttered the plant until further notice, in line with German government emergency lockdown regulations, after scores of employees tested were positive for Covid-19. Reports vary, with the highest figure quoted suggesting 196 workers have become infected with the virus. All agree that the number is above 150.
The company told local news outlets that 13 people have been hospitalised with moderate symptoms, and the rest are isolating with mild symptoms.
‘Covid-19 outbreak at Saputo plant’ in Canada
Canadian dairy business Saputo is dealing with an outbreak of Covid-19 at its Saskatoon milk plant, according to broadcaster CBC.
It reported that the Saskatchewan Health Authority has revealed that one worker at the plant tested positive for the virus while other employees are self-isolating.
Around 250 people work at the facility.
CBC quoted Saputo spokesperson Sandy Vassiadis as saying the infected employee’s last shift was on 27 April.
Everyone considered to have come into direct contact with the infected employee has been instructed to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus, she said.
Operations at the plant are continuing.
PepsiCo launches D2C services in Covid-19 move
US food and beverage giant PepsiCo has launched two direct-to-consumer websites to meet consumer demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Frito Lay crisp brand owner has launched PantryShop.com and Snacks.com, on which US-based shoppers can order an assortment of PepsiCo’s food and beverage products.
On PantryShop.com, consumers can order bundles containing PepsiCo’s brands such as Quaker, Gatorade, SunChips and Tropicana.
General Mills lifts outlook on back of at-home demand
US giant General Mills said today (11 May) it expects to beat its forecasts for full-year organic sales and underlying operating profit after experiencing an “unprecedented increase in consumer demand for food at home”.
Cargill ‘to shut another plant in Canada’
The US agri-food giant will later this week shut a meat-processing facility in Canada, the second time the company has closed a factory in the country.
According to media reports in Canada, the plant in Chambly in Quebec will shut down on Wednesday after an outbreak of Covid-19 among staff. Some 64 employees have the virus.
Last Monday, Cargill reopened a meat plant in the Canadian state of Alberta that was closed down temporarily amid reports hundreds of workers had contracted coronavirus.
Premium Brands Holdings pulls guidance
Premium Brands Holdings, the Canadian food producer, has pulled its annual guidance due to the “ramifications” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Vancouver-based business, with a portfolio stretching across cured meats, snacks and seafood, made the announcement with its first-quarter results to 28 March. Revenue was up 20.4% at CAD935m (US$668.2m); organic sales volumes increased 14.6%; adjusted EBITDA climbed 6.6% to CAD64.3m; and net earnings rose 22% to CAD12.2m.
“The market ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic had a slightly positive impact on the company’s sales and adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter, however, it expects the pandemic to have a significantly negative impact on its results for the year, in general, and the second quarter, in particular,” Premium Brands said in the earnings release.
Indiana Packers resumes pork production at Delphi facility
US-based pork supplier Indiana Packers (IPC) has resumed resumed limited operations at its facility in Delphi, after it was shut down last month due to 15 workers coming down with Covid-19.
IPC, which owns the Indiana Kitchen brand, has worked with the Indiana State Department of Health and Carroll County Department of Health to complete Covid-19 testing of 2,267 employees and contractors working at the facility on 1 May.
IPC president and CEO Russ Yearwood said: “This pause in operations and the testing of our employees was absolutely a critical moment in our ongoing effort to create a safe work environment.”
He added: “We suspected the testing process would generate an increase in positive cases unknown to us, but this was the point. This voluntary testing event identified those who are positive for the virus.”
IPC has carried out deep cleaning and plant-wide sanitisation at the facility. It has also added more physical barriers and hand sanitiser dispensers.
Canadian meat supplier Sofina Foods reports Covid-19 cases
Meanwhile, another meat processor, Sofina Foods, has announced cases of Covid-19 at two of its plants.
Sofina said two of its plants in Ontario had each seen one member of staff contract the virus. The factories are in Mississauga and Burlington.
In a statement on Friday, the company said the workers “are doing well and are self-isolating at home”.
A Sofina spokesperson said the company “stopped operations overnight” at the Mississauga plant “to allow fogging of all welfare areas in addition to daily sanitation”.
The spokesperson added: “In the case of our Burlington plant, the employee had not been at work for a week. Given the sanitation protocols in place at the plant, including regular fogging, we are confident that the areas where the employee went do not pose any contamination concerns.”
Last month, Sofina announced one of its employees at its plant in British Columbia had tested positive for Covid-19.
Canada poultry processor Maple Lodge Farms confirms Covid-19 fatality
Maple Lodge Farms, one of Canada’s largest poultry processors, has announced the death of an employee who tested positive for Covid-19 last month.
“We have been in touch with their family to offer our deepest condolences. We are also dedicated to providing the support and reassurance to help our employees through this incredibly difficult time,” a statement dated 7 May and posted on the Maple Lodge Farms reads.
“At the time of this notice, 25 employees have tested positive for Covid-19. We have checked in frequently with these employees to see how they are doing and offer our support.”
The statement listed measures Maple Lodge Farms said it had implemented to protect staff, including the suspension of “one-third of our operations” to clean its facility in Ontario and to implement “a plan to increase physical distancing of common areas”.
US group Hormel re-opens two factories
Hormel Foods, the US food manufacturer, has re-opened two plants in Minnesota closed in recent weeks due to COvid-19.
The company said on Thursday (7 May) operations at its Benson Avenue facility in Willmar in Minnesota had resumed “with a core group of team members and plans to ramp up production over the next few days”.
On 24 April, Hormel announced it would halt operations at the site, as well as at another on Willmar Avenue in Willmar. Both are part of Hormel’s Jennie-O Turkey Store business.
Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, said on Thursday: “We are glad to be reopening this facility and are working on our plans for reopening our other facilities including another location in Willmar and in Melrose, both in Minnesota. We have put the safety of our staff first throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, Hormel’s Alma Foods subsidiary started on what it called a “phased reopening plan”.
Alma Foods had decided to close “due to the small size of the plant and staffing availability due to some community issues with Covid-19”.
How could Covid-19 change the global food system?
What could be the possible lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumer attitudes to food and, more broadly, on the global food system?
In a deep dive published today (7 May) – featuring companies including Mondelez International and General Mills, as well as stakeholders across the financial and NGO communities – our contributing editor Ben Cooper discussed what are pretty big questions but questions many are pondering as we try to look beyond Covid-19.
Consumption patterns and consumer attitudes to food have been disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis, and the food market could be reshaped permanently by the pandemic.
The crisis has brought home how food is far more than just another aspect of people’s lives that could be changed by the virus. Even though the fear of food scarcity was relatively fleeting for many in developed countries, it has been enough to alter how people think about and value food, with possibly positive implications for efforts to reduce food waste, improve diets and create more sustainable food supply chains.
Meanwhile, the resilience of current modes of food production and distribution to such disruption is being assessed, with increased localisation and regionalisation finding favour with food manufacturers and consumers alike.
Change will not be sudden, however, as coping with continuing upheaval and a deep recession will be the main priorities during an indeterminate period of stabilisation and recovery. It is only when that phase is over that the lasting effects of Covid-19 on food culture can be fully judged.
You can read Ben’s piece – How could Covid-19 change how we think about food? – in full here.
Frozen-food group Nomad Foods lifts sales forecast
Iglo and Birds Eye owner Nomad Foods today (7 May) lifted its forecasts for annual sales and profitability after strong top-line growth in the first quarter of 2020.
Stéfan Descheemaeker, Nomad Foods’ CEO, said the company had seen an “unprecedented level of consumer demand for frozen food, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
He added: “This change in consumer behaviour, which began in early March, has continued into the second quarter with in-home consumption the most meaningful driver.”
UK’s Bakkavor sees workers test positive for Covid-19
UK private-label major Bakkavor has confirmed that four of its workers have contracted the Covid-19 virus.
Smithfield Foods to re-open Covid-hit South Dakota pork plant today
US meat heavyweight Smithfield Foods has confirmed that its pork processing facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will re-open today (7 May).
2 Sisters confirms Covid-19 cases at UK plant
2 Sisters Food Group, the UK-based poultry processor, has confirmed infections of Covid-19 among a number of employees at its plant in Devon, south-west England.
Our correspondent in Moscow, Lena Smirnova, reports on some of the challenges facing food manufacturers operating in the country.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which is yet to hit its peak in Russia, has put increasing pressure on the country’s food manufacturers by increasing operational costs at a time when businesses have also been facing a decline in the value of the rouble.
Major food manufacturers continue to operate at or near full capacity despite amid a nationwide lockdown, which is set to expire on 11 May.
Food manufacturers have been exempted from the order but health and safety costs have risen, A bigger pressure on food manufacturers comes from Russia’s weakened ruble, which has fallen steeply during the crisis.
You can read the story here.
Meat industry will spend more on automation, Tyson forecasts
Tyson Foods, the US meat major and one of the world’s largest, believes the industry will likely quicken its efforts to increase the use of automation in production facilities.
Triumph Foods sees mass Covid-19 outbreak at Missouri plant
US-based Triumph Foods has seen a mass outbreak of positive Covid-19 cases amongst the workforce at its pork processing plant in St Joseph, Missouri.
Tyson has positive news on production network
US meat giant Tyson Foods is to resume operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, facility – its largest pork processing plant.
In an announcement, Tyson said the plant will re-open following a “comprehensive review” of safety protocols.
Meanwhile, Tyson has also reopened a meat plant in Washington where production was suspended two weeks ago to enable testing of staff for Covid-19.
The beef facility in the city of Pasco run by the Tyson Fresh Meats division resumed “limited production” yesterday (5 May) having been idled on 23 April, according to a statement from the Arkansas-headquartered firm.
Staff who had contracted the virus will only be able to return to work once cleared by health officials, and team members who have not been tested will not be able to return, Tyson said. New health and safety protocols have also been put in place following deep cleaning and sanitisation of the plant.
Premier Foods pushes back annual results to June
Premier Foods, the UK-based owner of Batchelors soups and Mr Kipling cakes, has delayed the publication of its preliminary annual results until June.
The company was scheduled to issue numbers for the year to 28 March on 14 May, but to ensure Premier and its auditors have “sufficient time to complete the standard full-year reporting requirements”, they will now be published by the end of June, with a more precise date to be confirmed, it said in a filing with the London Stock Exchange today (6 May).
Premier said its previously announced guidance remains unchanged. Fourth-quarter sales are expected to be up 3.6%, with trading profit at the “top end of market expectations”.
Mondelez halts production at Canadian plant
Snacking heavyweight Mondelez International has paused production at its West Hamilton plant in Canada after four employees came down with coronavirus.
Covid-19 – Conagra eyes Birds Eye plant restart this week
US food major Conagra Brands said it intends to resume operations at the factory in Darien, Wisconsin, later this week.
Meal-kit maker HelloFresh sees Covid-19 boost
HelloFresh, the Germany-based meal-kit supplier, today (5 May) lifted its forecast for annual sales growth after bumper sales in the first quarter.
The company now expects its revenue to climb by 40-55% on a constant-currency basis in 2020, up from its previous forecast of 22-27%. The business also lifted its forecast on a metric for adjusted margins.
“On top of our already very strong first two months of the year, our meals have attracted significant additional demand in the second half of March, as the global pandemic hit all of our markets in short order,” HelloFresh co-founder and CEO Dominik Richter said.
In the first quarter of 2020, HelloFresh said it had what it calls 4.18m “active customers”, up from 2.48m in the opening three months of 2019. It booked 14.74m orders, up from 8.88m a year earlier.
HelloFresh’s first-quarter revenue rose by more than 66% to EUR699.1m (US$760m).
Major US retailers place limits on buying meat
With the US meat supply chain being battered by Covid-19, a couple of major retailers have taken action.
Kroger has placed limits on certain branded and own-label meat products.
Meanwhile, at wholesaler Costco, “fresh meat purchases are temporarily limited to a total of three items per member among the beef, pork and poultry products”.
Last week, major processor Tyson Foods warned of US meat shortages because of the number of plants shut by the Covid-19 virus.
In statements posted in US media outlets including The New York Times, company chairman John Tyson said the “food supply chain is breaking” as livestock and processing plants are closed because of the virus’s spread among workers.
Covid-19 – ‘Cases surge at Tyson Foods Goodlettsville plant’
The number of Covid-19 cases at a Tyson Foods meat plant in Tennessee have reportedly increased dramatically.
Fox News, quoting Metro Health officials in Nashville and Davidson County, said 298 cases have been confirmed at the facility in Goodlettsville.
Late last month, other media reports, citing the same officials, reported there were around 90 cases at the meat giant’s plant in the city of Goodlettsville, which is located across the Davidson and Sumner counties in Tennessee.
JBS and Smithfield Foods reportedly re-opening US meat plants
Reports from the US say that meat giants JBS and Smithfield Foods are re-opening plants closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The news follows an executive order from President Trump last week that said plants should stay open to ensure the US meat supply.
Hormel’s Don Miguel Foods re-opens
Don Miguel Foods, a US-based Mexican foods manufacturer, has re-opened as planned after a two-week shutdown prompted by a local Covid-19 outbreak.
“We have a common enemy, Covid-19, and we must work together to stop its spread both at the workplace and outside of work. We know what we need to do, it’s just a matter of everyone taking the steps necessary to keep each other safe,” Don Miguel Foods plant manager Ryan Gaynor said.
Don Miguel Foods is a subsidiary of MegaMex Foods, a joint venture between Mexico’s Herdez Del Fuerte and Hormel Foods.
Rochelle Foods, a US business owned by Hormel, also re-opened its facility in Illinois yesterday after testing workers for Covid-19 and introducing new safety measures at its plant.
Last week, Hormel subsidiary Fontanini Foods said it was to furlough, or temporarily lay off, 150 workers as Covid-19 takes its toll on the business.
Hormel, meanwhile, has closed another two facilities after a number of employees tested positive for Covid-19.
UK pork processor Tulip confirms Covid-19 cases at plants
Tulip Ltd., the UK-based pork processor owned by US meat firm Pilgrim’s Pride, confirmed an undisclosed number of employees have tested positive for Covid-19 at “some” facilities, although the company declined to provide specific details on the plants concerned.
Seafood giant Thai Union nets more sales
Thai Union Group, the seafood titan behind brands including John West and Chicken of the Sea, said today (5 May) its first-quarter sales reached their highest level for three years.
Sales rose 5.9% to THB31.1bn (US$960.5m), driven by “a strong performance” from Thai Union’s ambient business.
“Consumers around the world stocked up on shelf-stable products in response to Covid-19,” Thai Union.
While sales from ambient products grew more than 16%, Thai Union did point to a 5.1% fall in sales from its “frozen, chilled seafood and related business”. The company said that was “largely due to the impact of Covid-19” on its hospitality business.
Greencore reports Covid-19 case at UK factory
Greencore, the Ireland-based convenience foods manufacturer, said an employee at its Northampton plant in the UK has tested positive for Covid-19.
The worker is employed at the facility in the Moulton Park area of Northampton, which is located in the English east Midlands.
Covid-19 – Tyson Foods flags upcoming pressure on volumes
US meat titan Tyson Foods has warned of pressure on its sales volumes in the second half of its current financial year as gains made through selling to retailers have not offset a loss in business in a foodservice market largely shut down to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.
Providing forward-looking commentary alongside the financial results for the six months to 28 March, Tyson said each of its divisions had seen a “shift in demand” from the foodservice channel to the retail market.
However, the Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm owner warned: “The volume increases in retail have not been sufficient to offset the losses in foodservice and as a result, we expect decreases in volumes in the second half of fiscal 2020.
Aryzta provides update on plant closures, capital spend amid Covid-19
Aryzta has provided an update on the actions the Swiss-Irish bakery business has taken during the coronavirus crisis, including a pause in production at certain plants in Europe and North America, and the suspension of new projects under its turnaround programme.
Hormel’s Rochelle Foods arm re-opens facility following employee testing
Rochelle Foods, the US business owned by Hormel Foods, has re-opened its facility in Illinois today after testing workers for Covid-19 and introducing new safety measures at its plant.
The company, which makes a variety of products for foodservice and retail customers, including microwaveable and pre-cooked bacon, foodservice and retail bacon, deli hams and Hormel Compleats microwaveable meals, closed its operation down for 14 days.
It said the vast majority of its employees had tested negative for the virus.
During the pause in operations it carried out a deeo cleaning of high-touch areas, reconfigured common areas and workstations, revised shift scheduling, introduced new guidelines on carpooling and brought in more extensive social distancing measures.
Bill Rice, Rochelle Foods plant manager said: “We have put the safety of our team members first throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so.”
Covid-19 – Kellogg pushes back Incogmeato launch
Kellogg is pushing back the planned launch of plant-based brand Incogmeato due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Covid-19 – Staff hit at Irish pork supplier Rosderra
Ireland-based pork supplier Rosderra Irish Meats Group has seen dozens of staff test positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a senior member of the Irish parliament.
Ireland has “six clusters” of Covid-19 in meat plants, government signals
Ireland has “six clusters” of Covid-19 in meat factories, the country’s Agriculture Minister has said.
Michael Creed, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, revealed the number of groups of cases in the country’s parliament, the Dáil, on Thursday (30 April). He did not disclose their location.
Tyson to re-open Covid-battered Logansport plant
US meat giant Tyson Foods has announced that it is to re-open its Logansport, Indiana, plant next week despite local media reports suggesting nearly 900 workers there have contracted the Covid-19 virus.
Pilgrim’s Pride point to automation as an ally in Covid-19 fight
Pilgrim’s Pride believes investment in automation in its plants has helped the US poultry heavyweight avoid the worst of Covid-19.
Tyson Foods linked to large number of Covid-19 cases at single plant
Media outlets in the US suggest that local meat giant Tyson Foods has seen nearly 900 workers at one of its plants test positive for Covid-19.
Kraft Heinz adapt to “unprecedented call to action”
Kraft Heinz’s first-quarter results issued this week unsurprisingly reflected the artificial demand from Covid-19, a facet that’s unlikely to be sustained beyond the current crisis. Simon Harvey looks at the key takeaways as markets seek evidence the company’s “paradigm shift” is working.
Covid-19 cases reportedly surging at JBS beef plant in US
Cases of Covid-19 at a US beef plant owned by Brazilian meat giant JBS have reportedly surged since the facility was reopened a week ago.
Covid-19-linked demand sees Meatless Farm launch D2C service
The Meatless Farm Co., a UK-based alternative-protein start-up, has launched a direct-to-consumer service ahead of schedule to cater to the increased demand from coronavirus.
Tyson Foods said to be idling Nebraska plant in Covid-19 move
Tyson Foods is reportedly set to halt operations at the US meat giant’s beef plant in Dakota City, Nebraska, to undertake deep cleaning in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
Cargill to re-open shuttered Canada plant
Cargill is to reopen a meat plant in the Canadian state of Alberta next week that was closed down temporarily amid reports hundreds of workers had contracted coronavirus.
The US-based agri-food business said the High River facility will resume operations on Monday, 4 May, after being idle for 14 days, following consultations with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Occupational, Health and Safety (OHS).
Northern Ireland could face heavy agri-food job losses – warning
Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry could face 10,000 job losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a senior politician in the province has warned.
Meat shortages could change US eating habits, says GlobalData
Potential meat shortages in the US caused by the closure of processing plants due to Covid-19 could usher in marked changes in the country’s eating habits, according to UK-headquartered data and analytics firm GlobalData.
Canada’s Sofina Foods reports case at Port Coquitlam plant
Sofina Foods, a Canada-based branded and private-label meat supplier, said one of its employees has tested positive for Covid-19 at its plant in British Columbia.
The privately-owned business, which is headquartered in Markham, Ontario, said today (30 April) the site in question is located at Port Coquitlam, near Vancouver.
Kuljeet Chahal, the plant’s manager, said: “The employee lives with relatives who work at a local plant where, recently, several employees tested positive for the virus, including one of the employee’s relatives. We have been preparing for this type of incident and quickly sprang into action to assess risks and identify any action needed in addition to the proactive measures we already have in place.”
Port Coquitlam produces fresh chicken products and employs more than 400 people, Sofina said.
Kerry Group pulls guidance amid coronavirus uncertainty
Ireland-based Kerry Group has pulled its financial guidance due to the implications of coronavirus, which boosted the Richmond sausages owner’s retail sales in the first quarter as more people ate at home, but hit foodservice operations.
Turkey giant Butterball hit by Covid-19 outbreak
Butterball, the US turkey processor, has seen an outbreak of positive Covid-19 cases amongst the workforce at one of its plants.
Local media reports suggest nearly 60 workers at the Mount Olive facility in North Carolina, where Butterball is based, have come down with the virus.
JBS to re-open Minnesota pork plant for slaughtering operation
Brazilian meat heavyweight JBS is to re-open a US plant closed because of a Covid-19 outbreak, according to reports.
News agency Reuters reports that the company’s Worthington, Minnesota, plant is to re-open but to kill up to 13,000 pigs a day for farmers, not to produce meat for consumers.
US farmers have been forced to cull livestock after meat plants where they would normally be sent closed to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Reuters quoted JBS as saying it will need only ten to 20 employees of the 2,000 workers at its Worthington plant to manage the “humane euthanasia” of pigs.
The plant stopped operations on April 20. Until then it processed 20,000 hogs per day.
How will Covid-19 shape D2C platforms?
We’ve seen some radical changes in the way people shop over the past couple of months in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But how might that influence the manufacturer’s approach to direct-to-consumer services? Simon Harvey looks at the life for D2C post-crisis.
Covid-19 outbreak amongst Romanian workers in German meat plant, government says
Around 200 Romanians working at an unnamed German slaughterhouse have tested positive for the coronavirus, Romania’s foreign ministry (MFA) has said.
According to the ministry, those infected had all been working at a slaughterhouse in the south western German town of Birkenfeld, where 500 of the 700 employees are Romanian.
“German authorities say 300 employees are confirmed with Covid-19 and are now in quarantine. So far there is no precise data regarding the citizenship of those infected, but the majority (over 200) are Romanian citizens,” the ministry said in a statement.
President Trump orders meat plants to stay open
US President Donald Trump has ordered the country’s meat processing plants to stay open during the coronavirus crisis.
He is signing an executive order to that effect against a backdrop of plant closures due to Covid-19 outbreaks and warnings about meat shortages in US supermarkets as a result.
Mondelez parks guidance amid Covid-19 uncertainty
Mondelez International has retracted its financial outlook due to a lack of “visibility” into the impact of Covid-19 even as the US-based snacks maker reported a “strong” first quarter.
PepsiCo to invest in brands selling well during lockdown
US food and beverages giant PepsiCo is to invest in products such as cereal brand Quaker that have benefited from people eating at home during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Fazer warns of Covid-19-linked job losses
Fazer Group has warned of further coronavirus-related lay-offs as it prepares to start talks with employees at its confectionery plant in the Finnish city of Vantaa.
Meal-kit firm Blue Apron sees rise in demand during lockdown
Blue Apron, the New York-based meal-kit firm, has seen demand for its products increase during lockdown.
Delivering its Q1, 2020, results, the company said that since that quarter ended it has seen a significant increase in demand “following the various stay at-home and restaurant restriction orders and other restrictions on consumers that have been enacted throughout much of the country in response to the Covid-19 pandemic”.
CEO Linda Findley Kozlowski, said: “As we move into the second quarter of 2020, we are focused on driving customer retention and establishing longer-term consumer habits out of the heightened demand we have been seeing as a result of the impact of Covid-19.”
In order to meet the increased demand, the company is increasing capacity at its fulfilment centres, including hiring new employees and temporarily reducing variety in menu options, which limits the need to change production lines and allows for more time to pack meal kits.
PepsiCo Q1 sales up, pulls guidance due to Covid-19 uncertainties?
PepsiCo has pulled its financial guidance for the year as the US-based food and beverages giant said the coronavirus crisis has thrown up too many uncertainties to accurately predict the outlook.
The Frito-Lay and Walkers crisps owner made the announcement in conjunction with its first-quarter results to 21 March, with revenue up but both operating and net profits down on a reported basis.
Bimbo signals China QSR recovery
Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bakery business, has indicated it is seeing signs of recovery in China’s quick-service-restaurant channel.
Reporting its first-quarter financial results yesterday (27 April), Bimbo’s management offered some flavour on developments in China’s QSR market.
“We’re seeing in China [it’s] starting to recover the QSR market, as well as Korea,” Bimbo CEO Daniel Servitje said. “We are hopeful that we will start to see a good trend over the coming quarters in terms of how they fast can get back to their previous levels. It’s not going to be certainly in Q2 or Q3, the same level as we had in Q1 but we are thinking that we are on the right track as we are starting to see the situation evolve country-by-country.”
Asked if Bimbo was seeing QSR restaurants were running at a reported 40% capacity in China, Servitje added: “Well, we have, I will say, a bit higher number than the one that you mentioned about – and we are seeing an upward trend every week since they restarted their economy.”
Foodservice accounts for around 10% of Bimbo’s sales, Servitje said. Four of the company’s factories supplying the QSR market are closed: one each in France, South Africa, Morocco and Kazakhstan. A plant in Wuhan Bimbo shut in February has re-opened, Servitje confirmed yesterday.
In the first quarter, overall Bimbo sales rose 7% to MXN74.4bn (US$3.05bn). Bimbo said its “adjusted” EBITDA was up 11% at MXN8.9bn. Net majority income fell back significantly – from MXN1.32bn a year ago to MXN20m – due to costs linked to pensions.
UK meat group Cranswick pushes back FY results
Cranswick, one of the UK’s largest meat processors, has delayed the publication of its annual financial figures, which were due to be unveiled next month.
“Following guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Reporting Council relating to the unprecedented challenges faced by companies and their auditors in preparing financial information and accounts during the Covid-19 pandemic, the group now expects to report its preliminary results for the year ended 31 March 2020 on 23 June 2020, instead of the previously announced date of 19 May 2020,” Cranswick said in a stock-exchange filing today.
“This new date has been agreed with the group’s auditors to also allow them additional time to carry out the necessary audit process in light of travel and social distancing restrictions.”
Hormel-owned Fontanini Foods to furlough staff
US-based Fontanini Foods, owned by local heavyweight Hormel Foods, is to furlough, or temporarily lay off, 150 workers as Covid-19 takes its toll on the business.
Chocolate giant Ferrero partially closes Canada plant in Covid-19 move
Confectionery maker Ferrero has closed parts of its chocolate plant in Ontario, Canada, after three employees contracted coronavirus.
The Italy-headquartered business said it shut “two departments” at the facility in the city of Brantford, which makes the Ferrero Rocher brand of treats, until 3 May. It added the affected employees had self-isolated for at least a week before being confirmed as having Covid-19.
Freshways director recovering in London hospital
Freshways have said the operations director of the UK-based dairy firm is now recovering in hospital after contracting coronavirus.
South Dakota governor speaks on closed Smithfield plant
Kristi Noem, South Dakota’s governor, has said Smithfield Foods’ closed pork-processing factory in the state’s city of Sioux Falls could be open “in a matter of days” pending work on some “mitigation measures”.
Smithfield announced the closure of the Sioux Falls factory on 12 April “until further notice” amid what were reported to be dozens of positive cases of Covid-19 among staff. The facility represents 4-5% of total pork production in the US. Reports subsequently claimed the plant had more than 500 Covid-19 cases.
Speaking to US broadcaster Fox News yesterday, Noem said she was hopeful the plant could soon re-open. “I’m hopeful that we can get it opened as soon as possible,” Noem said. “They have some mitigation measures to put in place, but I think in a matter of days it could be opened, as long as everybody continues to work together and get it done.”
Speaking to just-food yesterday, Keira Lombardo, Smithfield’s executive vice president of corporate Affairs and compliance, said the company was in the process of studying a report on the factory issued last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She added: “We will thoroughly and carefully examine the report point by point and respond in full once our assessment is complete.”
Nestle CEO expects post-Covid-19 boost for e-commerce
The food and beverage industries could see greater sales made through e-commerce in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider has suggested.
During the first quarter, Nestlé saw e-commerce sales for its petcare and coffee businesses and, speaking to analysts after the world’s largest food maker posted its sales for the opening three months of the year, Schneider suggested the channel could grow in importance for the food and beverage markets.
“This is a key area where we saw true significant increases,” Schneider said of Nestlé’s Q1. “I think some of that will be here to stay. One of the side-effects of this crisis will be it will be a breakthrough event when it comes to e-commerce for food and beverage.
just-food Analysis: Nestle’s Q1 sales, FY guidance and post-Covid reflections – five things to learn
UK furloughed workers ‘could be used to pick fruit’
George Eustice, the UK’s Environment Secretary, has said he is in talks with industry to see if furloughed, or temporarily laid off, workers could help with picking fruit in June.
Tyson Foods chairman issues industry supply warning
US meat titan Tyson Foods has warned of US meat shortages because of the number of plants shut by the Covid-19 virus.
In statements posted in US media outlets including The New York Times, company chairman John Tyson said the “food supply chain is breaking” as livestock and processing plants are closed because of the virus’s spread among workers.
Tyson announced the closing of a number of pork and beef processing facilities last week in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus while other major meat processors in the US have done likewise.
“There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” Mr Tyson said.
Cal-Maine denies Covid-19 price-hiking charge
Cal-Maine Foods has said it will “vigorously defend itself” against a lawsuit issued by the Texas attorney general alleging the US-based egg supplier has engaged in price-hiking during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit alleges that Cal-Maine hiked the price of eggs from about US$1.00 per dozen to about $3.00, despite experiencing no disruption to its supply chain.
US poultry processor Foster Farms has seen four employees at its plant in Kelso, Washington, test positive for coronavirus.
Cowlitz County health officials said in a statement seen by just-food that the positive tests came to light when a phased testing procedure for potentially exposed plant employees was carried out on 22 April on 77 workers at the plant.
It said that in coordination with Foster Farms, health officials will conduct a second round of testing at Foster Farms on approximately 115 additional employees today (27 April).
Tesco extends helping hand to potato grower Branston
Tesco is trying to help UK farmers left with surplus stock because of the shut down of restaurants during the lock down and has agreed a tie-up with potato grower Branston.
The big four UK supermarket chain will be stocking Branston’s 2.5 kilogram bags of white, baking and ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ potatoes normally destined for foodservice channels such as chip shops during the next two weeks.
Branston is based in the village of the same name in the county of Lincolnshire.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Tesco said potato prices had increased by around 20% due to “inflated demand”.
Ben Rowbotham, who is in charge of potato sourcing at Tesco, said: “Taking these surplus potatoes not only helps meet the extra demand at the moment but also supports growers at a time when many are facing a real struggle to keep their businesses going. The varieties are mainly ones used for making chips, so while they might not look as cosmetically perfect as others they will still be delicious and excellent for pan frying, sautéing, making potato wedges and other dishes.”
A new week and more news from North America on how the pandemic is affecting production among food manufacturers.
JBS plant in Wisconsin becomes fourth hit by Covid-19, two others reopen
Brazilian meat packer JBS has closed a fourth US plant because of coronavirus, this time in the state of Wisconsin.
The temporary shutdown at the firm’s Green Bay facility was announced yesterday (26 April). Previously closed beef processing plants in Souderton, Pennsylvania, and Greeley, Colorado have reopened, JBS said in a statement, adding that its pork facility in Worthington, Minnesota, remains in shut-down mode.
Smithfield to close another US plant
US pork-processing giant Smithfield Foods is to shut another plant this week due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Smithfield, owned by China’s WH Group, said it is to “suspend operations” at its facility in Monmouth, Illinois from this next week “until further notice”.
The company, which has shut sites in Iowa, Wisconsin and Montana, added “a small portion” of the 1,700 employees at the Monmouth plant had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
More McCain Foods jobs hit by foodservice slump
McCain Foods, the Canada-based potato-products supplier, has confirmed more jobs have been affected as the company tries to adjust to how Covid-19 has affected demand.
The company is temporarily laying off workers at a site in its domestic market, a move that follows cuts to production in the UK, where workers were also put on leave.
US union says up to 6,500 food plant workers impacted by Covid-19
The US United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is urging the government to provide more protective equipment for food plant employees, claiming up to 6,500 workers have been infected with or are exposed to the virus.
Tyson plant closures continue with Shelbyville shuttered for cleaning
Tyson Foods, the US meat titan, has confirmed that the Covid-19 outbreak has forced it to close another plant.
After the announcements of three plant closures already this week, the Jimmy Dean brand owner has said its plant at Shelbyville, Tennessee, facility is to close temporarily for cleaning.
Tyson suspends operations at Washington State plant
US meat heavyweight Tyson Foods has suspended production at its Pasco, Washington, beef facility while employees there undergo Covid-19 testing.
It is the third closure announced by the company this week.
Cloetta coy on layoffs as Covid-19 halts eight quarters of growth
Speaking to analysts after reporting first-quarter results, Cloetta’s CEO said talks with employees over potential Covid-19-related layoffs have concluded but was reluctant to provide specifics on numbers at this stage as the impact of the virus halted eight consecutive quarters of growth.
Nestle Q1 sales beat consensus, maintains FY guidance
Nestlé today (24 April) posted first-quarter sales that beat market expectations, with the world’s largest food maker bucking a trend among peers and keeping in place its guidance for the rest of 2020.
Coronavirus – Cloetta issues profit warning as first-quarter sales fall
Cloetta has warned its second-quarter profits will be “significantly lower” than last year amid the upheaval from the coronavirus crisis, which has caused the Sweden-based confectionery maker to withdraw its dividend.
Tyson Foods CFO moves to cool fears over meat supply
The chief financial officer (CFO) of US meat giant Tyson Foods has advised consumers not to panic over potential meat shortages.
Analysis: Unilever Q1 sales update and post-Covid thoughts – six things to learn
Flat sales and a guidance withdrawal no doubt weighed on Unilever’s shares but, digging down, how did the Wall’s ice cream maker’s food business perform in Q1? And how does the FMCG giant view the rest of the year – and beyond? Dean Best reports.
Post-Covid-19 consumer will want “value” – Unilever CEO
The notion of “value” will rise up the consumer’s agenda as the macroeconomic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic hits spending, Unilever CEO Alan Jope has said today (23 April).
Speaking to analysts after Unilever reported its sales for the first quarter of 2020, Jope outlined how the FMCG giant was looking at the consumer and category landscape post-Covid-19.
Coronavirus – Hershey joins club of food firms pulling guidance
Snacks maker Hershey has withdrawn its financial guidance for the year because chief executive Michele Buck said it has become increasingly difficult to predict the coronavirus impact on the US business.
Unilever extracts guidance as Covid-19 weighs on sales
Unilever has extracted its financial guidance after the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant reported the impact of Covid-19 on its business in the first quarter, when underlying sales growth was flat.
Emerging markets were hit the most, with sales down 1.8%, while the performance in developed countries showed a 2.8% increase in sales.Unilever said China “slowed significantly” during the country’s Covid-19 lock down, which began in January, as foodservice demand declined, and ice cream and retail sales tailed off. Meanwhile, Europe and North America “saw a positive impact of household stocking in March”.
Tyson Foods suspends operations at Indiana plant in Covid-19 move
US meat giant Tyson Foods is to temporarily close its Logansport facility in Indiana to carry out Covid-19 testing among its workforce there.
Just after a day after the company announced it is to “indefinitely suspend operations” at a pork facility in Waterloo, Iowa, the company said its Logansport plant would cease operations temporarily on or before Saturday (25 April).
Conagra closes frozen food facility after Covid-19 outbreak among workforce
US food group Conagra Brands has temporarily halted production at a frozen food plant after an outbreak of the Covid-19 virus among employees there.
The West must transform its economic logic in light of the coronavirus
Against a life-threatening virus and a shortage of medical equipment, neither the free market nor socialist policies can be made to work. What we need is a different set of principles: a set of principles that transforms the economic logic of the West, writes Robert Skidelsky – author of a three-volume biography of J M Keynes, a cross-bench peer and emeritus professor of political economy at the University of Warwick – in the New Statesman today.
“Since we have no ethically accepted principle of choosing between who is to live and who to die, we should take exceptional pains to ensure that we do not face acute shortages of life-preserving equipment. It is a scandal that the developed world was caught so short of tools to deal with the pandemic,” he writes.
“We need to restore what used to be called ‘the precautionary principle’. In all those situations in which we can rationally anticipate a severe life-threatening event, ‘just-in-time’ thinking needs to be replaced by ‘just-in-case’ thinking.”
You can read the full article here.
Gordon Brown on economic crises, the retreat from globalisation and the fight against Covid-19
In a wide-ranging interview published on the New Statesman today, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the coronavirus pandemic is “undoubtedly a crisis of globalisation” – but the solution is more global cooperation, not less.
Brown says the crisis will “force us to rethink what we mean by the management of the global economy”, as well as what constitutes the “right policies for a global society”.
“It is the beginning of a period of quite intense rethinking, partly because we enter it having had a period of protectionism … the past two or three years, we’ve moved to a more aggressive nationalism, which is America First. It’s the attempt to put populist nationalism on a global level – India First, China First and everything else – so you’ve got, if you like, a global coalition of anti-globalists,” he says.
“Some of the assumptions of globalisation are being challenged, but it actually makes it more important that we put the case for global cooperation rather than simply accept that certain countries are resistant to it. If you’ve got a medical emergency, a pandemic, it is the most obvious example of where countries have to cooperate. You cannot solve this problem in one country; it has got to be solved in every country.
“Even the most isolationist nations must know that you cannot solve it simply in the US or Europe. If you can’t agree on health multilateralism, what kind of multilateralism can you agree on?” Brown also speaks about the dangers of “vaccine nationalism”, about the prospect of a universal basic income, and how coronavirus will change the UK’s social contract.
You can read the full piece here.
Nestle gets clearance to run all India plants
Nestlé has received the green light from government officials in India to re-start production at all its factories in the country.
Last month, the Maggi maker said it had “scaled down or suspended” parts of its operations in India after parts of the country had implemented lockdown measures. Hours after Nestlé’s announcement, India’s Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, a measure since extended to last until 3 May.
Yesterday, the publicly-listed Nestlé India issued a stock-exchange filing that provided an update on its manufacturing network in the country.
Covid-19 – USDA launches assistance programme for food supply chain
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to aid farmers, ranchers and food distributors and to “maintain the integrity” of the country’s food supply chain.
The US$19bn relief programme includes $16bn in direct support to framer and ranchers based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted
It is intended to assist them with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by Covid-19.
Tyson Foods “indefinitely suspends” output at US meat plant
A day after announcing production would re-start at one coronavirus-hit plant in the US, Tyson Foods said today (22 April) it would stop output at another.
Tyson plans to “indefinitely suspend operations” at a pork facility in Waterloo, Iowa, this week.
Scaled-down production at Tyson’s fresh beef and pork facility 120 months south in Columbus Junction started yesterday. Manufacturing at the plant was suspended two weeks ago because of a number of Covid-19 cases, and, according to reports, some deaths.
Danone sees a post-Covid-19 boost for ‘big brands’
Big brands might be able to prosper as consumers adjust after the Covid-19 pandemic, Danone has suggested.
Speaking to analysts yesterday (21 April) after Danone reported its first-quarter sales – and withdrew its financial guidance for 2020 – the company’s management, though underlining it is hard to make firm forecasts on future consumer behaviour, indicated their belief larger brands could resonate with shoppers.
Cargill ‘to idle plant’ hit by Covid-19 outbreak
US agri-food giant Cargill is to reportedly suspended operations at a meat factory in North America as health officials said hundreds of the facility’s staff have been infected with Covid-19.
Glanbia pulls guidance on back of Covid-19 uncertainty
Glanbia has pulled its financial guidance for the year as the Ireland-based dairy and sports nutrition business said volatile trading conditions due to the coronavirus crisis became more pronounced toward the end of the first quarter and beyond.
A2 Milk Co. sees sales boosted by virus-linked pantry-loading
New Zealand-based dairy and infant-formula producer A2 Milk Co. has experienced a sales boost as result of Covid-19-linked pantry-loading, it said in a trading update issued on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), on which it is listed, this morning (22 April).
Danone Q1 sales update and adapting to Covid-19 – six things to learn
Danone today (21 April) posted first-quarter sales that beat analyst expectations, with the French giant boosted by Covid-19 pantry-loading. However, the Alpro maker withdrew its financial guidance for 2020, which may have weighed on its share price. Dean Best takes a look at the numbers and Danone’s commentary.
Tyson Foods to partially reopen Covid-19-hit plant
Tyson Foods will start scaled-down production at its fresh beef and pork facility in Columbus Junction, Iowa, today (21 April) after manufacturing was suspended two weeks ago because of a number of Covid-19 cases, and, according to reports, some deaths.
Covid-19 – Another plant linked to Hormel Foods to close
Don Miguel Foods, a US-based Mexican foods manufacturer, has been forced to close its plant temporarily due to the spread of Covid-19, adding another facility associated with food giant Hormel Foods to be shutdown.
JBS ‘to close pork facility hit by Covid-19 in US’
Brazilian meat giant JBS will reportedly shut down its pork processing plant in Minnesota run by its US subsidiary after seven workers tested positive for Covid-19.
Over a week ago, JBS, one of the world’s largest meat processors, announced the temporary closure of a beef plant located in Greeley in Colorado’s Weld County until 24 April, again because of coronavirus.
J.M. Smucker gets sales boost from pantry-loading
US jam, peanut butter, relishes and snacks maker J. M. Smucker has improved its sales guidance for its fiscal year, reflecting a Covid-19-linked surge in demand for the sort of products it manufactures and a relatively small exposure to the foodservice channel.
J. M. Smucker is still forecasting a decline in annual sales but one not as steep as previously thought.
Danone sales boosted but guidance abandoned against backdrop of Covid-19 volatility
French dairy giant Danone said it will not be providing financial guidance for the rest of this year because of the uncertain economic climate created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
ABF refrains from giving guidance in light of coronavirus impact
Associated British Foods has refrained from providing financial guidance for the year and will not declare a dividend as the impact from the coronavirus crisis is expected to ramp up in the second half.
Covid-19 cases force Canada’s High Liner Foods to close plant
High Liner Foods, the Canadian frozen seafood products company, is to temporarily close its plant in Portsmouth, Ontario, following the discovery of confirmed Covid-19 cases amongst its employees there.
New Zealand dairy heavyweight Fonterra is to maintain strict safety controls even though the country has announced the gradual lifting of Covid-19-linked lockdown restrictions.
The cooperative, the world’s largest dairy exporter, said it will keep operating a level 4 health and safety regime even when the country moves to a level 3.
New Zealand has announced it will ease restrictions from next week. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday (20 April) that the country had succeeded in stopping “an uncontrolled explosion” of the disease.
The country will be put on a level 3 alert from 27 April for at least two weeks, then the government will assess whether to further relax the lockdown.
But Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell, speaking at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event, said it will remain under a level 4 scenario.
“We just can’t afford the risk of any disruption to our supply chains,” he said.
Fonterra said it will not ease its controls until the government reduced the alert level to 2, when it would look at a phased return to the workplace, with extra safety precautions and travel restrictions remaining.
India’s food sector hoping disruption will ease despite lockdown extension
In New Delhi, our correspondent reports on how India’s packaged food industry is hoping to restart more of its operations this week, with leading members saying state and municipal governments are increasingly willing to approve exemptions for the sector from a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown on manufacturing and trade, currently in place until 3 May.
Another Hormel Foods subsidiary announces temporary closure
US meat giant Hormel Foods revealed a plant owned by its Alma Foods subsidiary is to close temporarily due to a positive Covid-19 case, adding to another unit’s site closure announced earlier today (see below).
Tyson Foods ‘reports more Covid-19 staff deaths’
Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest meat companies, has reportedly confirmed more of its domestic staff have died from Covid-19.
According to AP, the meat titan has said three employees at its chicken-processing plant in Camilla, Georgia have died after contracting the novel coronavirus. A fourth person, who worked in what was described in the report as a supporting job outside the plant, has also died.
Column: How Covid-19 might shape consumer trends in China
Packaged-food companies mulling the post-Covid-19 consumer will be watching China with interest. Our local columnist Peter Peverelli sets out some trends that could take hold.
Cargill meat plant in Canada linked to 358 cases of Covid-19
US agri-food giant Cargill has been linked with a mass outbreak of Covid-19 at its Canadian meat-packing plant in High River, Alberta.
UK’s Premier Foods forecasts elevated sales volumes
Premier Foods, the UK manufacturer of largely shelf-stable foods, expects sales volumes to continue to be above-average after a “dramatic short-term peak” in March.
The owner of Mr Kipling cakes said it has seen the spike in volumes “across many of its categories” last month.
And, in a trading update to the London Stock Exchange this morning, Premier added: “Volumes have started to reduce from the exceptional levels seen in March, although are still expected to continue to be higher than average patterns of demand. This reflects more meals being eaten at home than usual due to recent measures set out by HM Government and hence increased demand for the group’s product ranges.”
Italy food sector fears fall in demand after Covid-19 spike
Italy’s higher demand for homegrown food products is “atypical and fleeting”, the president of food industry association Federalimentare has warned.
Ivano Vacondio said hoarding by Italian consumers during the Covid-19 outbreak has, until now, camouflaged problems that will soon emerge.
Hormel subsidiary Rochelle Foods closed down in Covid-19 scare
US-based Rochelle Foods, owned by local heavyweight Hormel Foods, has been forced to halt production for 14 days as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Illinois company, which makes bacon and ham-based products and microwaveable meals for the foodservice and retail channels, has been shut down by the local health department.
Armanino Foods of Distinction predicts Q2 loss as foodservice factor bites
US speciality food manufacturer Armanino Foods of Distinction has said it expecting to post a loss in the second quarter as a result of Covid-19.
Mondelez International talks snacks trends and Covid-19
In an exclusive interview with just-food, US snacks giant Mondelez International talks about SnackFutures, an innovation and venture hub the Oreo owner set up to improve its agility and identify new areas of growth.
In the interview, Brigette Wolf, the head of innovation at SnackFutures, discusses the company’s recent investments in start-ups and its launch of four new brands.
And Wolf also discussed how Mondelez sees Covid-19 shaping demand for snacks.
“Covid-19 is reinforcing the need for wellbeing snacks” – Mondelez International’s SnackFutures on demand now – and beyond coronavirus – for snacks
Smithfield Foods ‘has more than 500 Covid-19 cases’ at Sioux Falls plant
Reports, unconfirmed by the company, suggest that there are now more than 500 Covid-19 cases at US meat giant Smithfield Foods’ pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Nestle confirms UK worker has tested positive for Covid-19
Nestlé has confirmed an employee at its confectionery factory in the UK town of Halifax has tested positive for Covid-19 and is receiving treatment in hospital.
Covid-19 – Greenyard raises sales guidance after surge in demand
Belgium-based fruit and veg supplier Greenyard has adjusted its sales guidance upwards after seeing a surge in demand for its produce linked to the Covid-19 outbreak.
South African alt-meat firm Fry’s closes plant after confirmed Covid-19 case
Fry Group Foods, the South African meat-free manufacturer, has temporarily closed its facility after a manager contracted the Covid-19 virus.
The Durban-based company, which makes plant-based burgers and sausages amongst other products, confirmed in a statement sent to just-food that its Westmead premises will be locking its doors.
General Mills points to demand for brands consumers “trust”
General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening said the US food company has seen an uplift in sales as people turn to comfort food while staying at home during the outbreak.
Speaking to the Fox News Network, he said: “Consumers have rediscovered brands that they known and trust like Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and Cheerios and as a result we have seen demand for our products grow.
“Where we’ve really seen an increase is in meal occasions as people are no longer eating out at restaurants.”
Asked about issues linked to manufacturing, Harmening said General Mills has seen attendance levels of 95%+ at its plants.
Tiger Brands closes bread factory after Covid-19 cases
South Africa’s Tiger Brands has shut a bread production facility after an undisclosed number of coronavirus cases among staff.
Tiger said it would “temporarily close” its bakery in the city of Durban “as a precautionary measure after some staff members tested positive for Covid-19”.
Nordic group Orkla reports boost to Q1 sales
Orkla, the Norway-based FMCG group, has reported growing first-quarter sales, helped in part by higher demand linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
The company, which today (17 April) issued a preliminary sales update ahead of a fuller announcement of its first-quarter results in early May, said its revenue in the first three months of the year was up 13% at NOK11.51bn (US$1.1bn).
Revenue from Orkla’s core “branded consumer goods” business grew 15% to NOK11.32bn.
Looking at revenue per business unit, Orkla Foods saw its revenue grow 19% (and by 11% on an organic basis).
Sales from Orkla’s Confectionery & Snacks arm rose more slowly, increasing by 7% during the quarter (and by 2% on an organic basis).
Orkla Food Ingredients, which does have some exposure to the out-of-home market, saw its sales fall 1% on an organic basis, although they rose 12% on a reported basis, helped, in part, by M&A.
Ter Beke brings Offerman meat business in-house, provides update on Covid-19
Ter Beke plans to integrate its meat-processing operations in the Netherlands by bringing the Offerman business in-house just as the Belgian food group has taken other measures to deal with the volatile demand arising from the coronavirus crisis.
Cargill reduces shifts at protein plant in Canada
US-based agri-food business Cargill has reduced shifts at a meat processing plant in Canada after an undisclosed number of employees tested positive for the deadly Covid-19 virus.
UK union GMB urges government to convene food factory safety summit
UK trade union GMB, which represents food production workers, has called for a Covid-19 food factory safety summit amid concerns about a lack of social distancing within facilities.
GMB has asked the government to convene an urgent meeting with grocery retailers and industry body the Food and Drink Federation to thrash out the issue.
Aldi dips toe into home delivery in UK
German discounter Aldi is to join the online grocery fray in the UK, launching a service tomorrow for “vulnerable customers”.
The retailer said it will sell “ambient food parcels”, containing 22 items including tinned soup, rice and pasta.
The parcels are available online at https://www.aldi.co.uk/food-parcels and will retail at £24.99 inclusive of delivery. They will be limited to one per customer.
Aldi is the UK’s fifth-largest food retailer by market share, accounting for 8% of sales in the 12 weeks to 22 March, according to the latest data issued by Kantar. Its sales grew by 11% during the period.
The retailer has 875 stores in the UK. By 2025, Aldi plans to operate more than 1,200 outlets.
Here’s some analysis of this move, written by our colleagues at GlobalData: Aldi’s UK online grocery push will be closely watched
US government to intervene to aid food supply chain
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to take steps to maintain the country’s food supply chain which is threatened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This includes buying meat and milk to help farmers hit by coronavirus.
In an interview with Fox Business Network, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said: “We want to purchase as much of this milk, or other protein products, hams and pork products, and move them into where they can be utilised in our food banks, or possibly even into international humanitarian aid.”
US meat giant Smithfield announces further facility closures
Smithfield Foods, the US meat giant, has announced it is to close two more processing facilities after positive Covid-19 tests amongst its workers.
Campbell Soup reports six Covid-19 cases at Pennsylvania bakery plant
Campbell Soup Co. said six employees at the US food heavyweight’s Denver, Pennsylvania, bakery plant have tested positive for Covid-19 and are in quarantine.
Coronavirus – Australia’s Costa Group withdraws guidance despite “robust trading”
Costa Group Holdings, an Australia-based fruit and vegetable supplier, has withdrawn its financial guidance because of the uncertainties from coronavirus, despite noting a “robust trading performance” for the year so far.
Covid-19 to spark “new era of responsible consumption” – Unilever CEO
The Covid-19 pandemic will “herald a new era of responsible consumption”, Unilever chief executive Alan Jope has predicted.
Speaking to CNBC, Jope said the coronavirus crisis would “accelerate” efforts among government, business and civil society to work together to tackle “big problems” such as climate change and inequality.
Jope, a Unilever veteran who took the helm at the Knorr and Magnum maker at the start of 2019, also told the business broadcaster “there’s no doubt the world’s going into recessionary times” and said the “value-for-money elements” of companies’ portfolios “will play an especially important role, probably in the next three years or so”.
Analysis: Meat processing emerges as Covid-19 hot-spot in North America
The meat industries in the US and Canada have seen factory suspensions and closures due to Covid-19. How can processors react? And what might be the impact on supply?
Grupo Bimbo US employees test positive for Covid-19
Grupo Bimbo said two employees at one of the Mexico-based bakery firm’s US plants have tested positive for Covid-19, although the facility in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania remains operational.
Grupo Bimbo re-opens Pennsylvania plant to cope with extra demand
The US bakery unit of Mexico-based Grupo Bimbo is to reopen a plant in Pennsylvania temporarily to help meet the increased demand from coronavirus as lockdowns that have shuttered restaurants prompt people to eat more at home.
Flowers Foods closes US bakery until late April
US bakery business Flowers Foods is closing its Georgia plant for around two weeks “out of an abundance of caution” after a number of employees at the site contracted Covid-19.
The facility in the city of Tucker, which normally employs 255 workers and produces frozen bakery products for the foodservice sector, will reopen “on or around” 27 April, the Nature’s Own and Dave’s Killer Bread brand owner said in a statement today (14 April).
Potato-products giant Aviko warns of possible job losses
Aviko, the Netherlands-based French fries producer, has warned of potential job losses as a result of Covid-19’s impact on the foodservice channel.
The company has asked the Dutch government for a wages subsidy to help it weather the coronavirus storm.
Meat giant JBS to shut US plant amid Covid-19 concerns
JBS, the Brazil-based meat behemoth, has announced the closure of a beef production facility in the US amid reported multiple cases of Covid-19 at the plant.
The company, the world’s largest processor of beef, said the factory, located in Greeley in Colorado’s Weld County, will be shut until 24 April.
Canada’s Olymel to reopen pork plant
Olymel, the Canadian pork and poultry processor, is to reopen a factory temporarily closed due to a number of Covid-19 cases among employees.
The company, part of Canada’s Solio Cooperative Group, said the hog slaughter and cutting plant in Yamachiche would open today (14 April).
Olymel announced the closure of the facility on 29 March after nine workers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
UK’s NFU calls for Covid-19 dairy sector crisis talks with government
The UK’s National Farmers Union (NFU) has asked the country’s government for a coronavirus-linked “crisis” meeting to discuss the dairy sector’s problems.
South Africa’s Tiger Brands closes factories
Tiger Brands, the South Africa-based FMCG group, has shut a number of its plants as the company adjusts to the coronavirus pandemic.
08:35 BST – Welcome back after what we hope was a restful Easter break (for those of who in parts of the world that marked the festival).
Over the period, two of just-food’s network of global correspondents filed updates of how the pandemic was affecting parts of the food industries in their respective countries.
Spain’s food industry calls for help on PPE
Spain’s food manufacturing body has called on the country’s government to offer more help in supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to companies that have stayed open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Federación Española de Industrias de Alimentación y Bebidas (FIAB) is also urging the Spanish government to offer financial packages for food manufacturers supplying restaurants and cafes closed by the lockdown and offer companies protection against price gouging by some suppliers.
Scandi Standard makes cash preservation move
Nordic poultry products group Scandi Standard has implemented “precautionary cash preservation measures” in the face of the coronavirus crisis, which has pushed up retail sales but dented its foodservice operations.
India dairy players adapt production
India’s major dairy companies are reorienting procurement and processing towards solid dairy products, taking advantage of the supply chain and demand disruptions caused by the 21-day national lockdown imposed by the government to control the spread of Covid-19.
US pork giant Smithfield Foods closes coronavirus-hit plant
Smithfield Foods, one of the world’s largest pork producers, has closed “until further notice” one of its biggest production facilities in the US amid what are reported to be dozens of positive cases of Covid-19 among staff.
“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Smithfield president and CEO Kenneth Sullivan said.
Column: Why change is inevitable in the wake of Covid-19
And our US columnist Victor Martino has today set out what he sees as the four stages of change that will impact the country’s food industry – with analysis that will resonate beyond US borders.
Victor writes: “As recently as February none of us had any idea 2020 would be a year of fundamental change for the food industry.
“But then came the Covid-19 pandemic, which is delivering a blow to the sector’s central nervous system like none we’ve ever experienced before. All that was solid as we began 2020 has melted into thin air.
“Like you all, I’m spending a considerable amount of time thinking about what the Covid-19 pandemic means for the food industry and CPG companies, not just today but for the immediate future. What changes will we need to make to adapt in the wake of Covid-19?
“There will be four waves or stages of change that will impact the food industry in the coming months. The severity of these waves or stages of change will depend on how severe the global pandemic is, which at this point in time is unknown.”
Bakkavor again under fire after undercover video
UK private-label major Bakkavor is again in the spotlight over its business practices during the Covid-19 crisis after a manager threatened to sack staff who stayed at home.
During a presentation at a Bakkavor plant in London, secretly filmed and shared with UK newspaper The Guardian and broadcaster ITV News, Sean Madden, head of operations at the factory, said staff who missed work when they were not sick could be first to be made redundant if cuts were needed.
The video, which can be seen on The Guardian‘s website here, has Madden telling staff: “If we need to get rid of 200 people’s jobs next month, I’m going to look at who turned up to work and I’m going to look at who didn’t bother turning up to work. The people who didn’t bother turning up to work, you know, they will be the first people that we have to get rid of unfortunately.”
US poultry sector faces union criticism over Covid-19
The US poultry sector’s “delayed response” to coronavirus is “leaving most workers unprotected”, a trade union representing thousands of workers across the food industry has warned.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) claimed “the poultry industry as a whole is getting it wrong” on safety standards, claiming “too many workers have already been infected and are suffering the consequences”.
In response, trade association The National Chicken Council has insisted its members take “very seriously our responsibly to keep workers safe while providing protein for families”, with a spokesperson arguing the industry “began increasing efforts to protect workers even before the virus started spreading more than a month ago”.
Kraft Heinz debuts home-delivery to help isolated workers
Food heavyweight Kraft Heinz has launched an online delivery service in the UK for consumers to purchase its most popular canned items such as baked beans.
The US-based business said its ‘Heinz to Home’ service is designed to cater to people in self-isolation due to coronavirus and is able to deliver to homes within three days.
As well as Heinz Beanz, Heinz Hoops and Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup will feature initially, with plans to follow with ketchup and baby foods. All are supplied as bundle purchases for GBP10.00 (US$12.45).
Kraft Heinz said it has partnered with Blue Light Card, a UK discount service for workers in the NHS, emergency services, social care and the armed forces.
“The shop is a first for us, and it comes in response to stories we’ve all heard in the last few weeks,” said Jojo de Noronha, the president of Kraft Heinz Northern Europe. “Stories about people struggling to access food and basic necessities, where people are understandably upset about how they are going to eat and stay healthy during this pandemic, and about people who need food but can’t access it in any of the usual ways.”
McCain Foods cuts UK fries production, furloughs workers
McCain Foods, the Canada-headquartered french fries maker, is cutting production across three UK plants and putting some workers on leave as coronavirus restrictions eat into foodservice demand.
US dairy groups call for action as Covid-19 crimps demand
Dairy industry groups in the US are urging the government to provide a “comprehensive action” plan for the sector as the Covid-19 crisis causes a disparity between supply and demand.
Fonterra workers test positive at Edendale distribution site
New Zealand-based dairy giant Fonterra said two of its employees at its Edendale distribution centre had tested positive for Covid-19, and the facility was closed temporarily on Tuesday (7 April) for deep cleaning.
France veg giant Bonduelle suspends guidance
Bonduelle is another major food manufacturer to have pulled its financial guidance, citing “uncertainties” created by Covid-19.
Coronavirus – Orior pulls guidance amid “dramatic” fall in foodservice
Orior, the Switzerland-based fresh meats and pasta business, has also said it can no longer abide by its previously-announced financial guidance due to the uncertainties created for the listed-business from coronavirus.
US major Conagra Brands details recent sales spike
Conagra Brands, the owner of US brands such as Hunt’s ketchup and Chef’s Boyardee pasta, last week provided a flavour of the impact Covid-19 is having on its business – and bucked the trend of some of its peers withdrawing financial guidance by announcing it expected to exceed its previously announced outlook.
The Banquet ready-meals maker has given another update, issuing a stock-exchange filing ahead of meeting with investors.
Conagra’s statement last week came alongside the publication of its third-quarter results to 23 February. The 8-K stock-exchange filing issued yesterday gave some additional details on Conagra’s performance, covering the week to 29 March.
The company said its retail sales had jumped more than 30%, boosted by a 17.5% rise in retail sales of its frozen food and an 11.4% increase in snacks sales.
Conagra also said its share of all the categories in which it operates had increased by 20 basis points during that week, compared to a year ago.
Murray River Organics withdraws outlook as Covid-19 impact intensifies
Murray River Organics is pulling its financial guidance almost a month after the Australia-based dried fruit snacks producer first revealed the initial impact from Covid-19.
MRG has been struggling financially for some time, reporting EBITDA losses for each of the past three years. In 2019 the business said it was seeking additional equity funding to support future expansion but Covid-19 now presents an additional challenge.
Last year’s results showed a 12% decline in revenues to a tad over AUD60m (US$37.5m), and an EBITDA-S loss of AUD3.6m, down from a AUD14.3m loss in the corresponding period.
France’s LDC gives update on business impact
LDC, the French poultry and prepared-foods supplier, has issued an update to the stock market on how Covid-19 has affected the business so far.
Alongside the publication of its annual revenue for the year to 29 February, the Paris-listed LDC said the “sharp slowdown” in the out-of-home market, combined with “purchasing developments” in the supermarket and hypermarket channels had led to “declining activity across the group, both in France and abroad”.
LDC said it had sought to reallocate capacity usually used to supply the foodservice market towards retail customers.
The company said it had seen “increased business” in France’s retail sector, although demand had been “mixed”, with sales of speciality products such as duck and guinea fowl done. Sales of products meant for individual consumption, such as ready meals and sandwiches, were also lower.
However, sales of “traditional” products, such as chicken, as well as convenience items like nuggets, had seen “a very good level of activity”, LDC said.
“Beyond the resilience of its model and its market positions, the group also has a solid financial situation, which allows it to be confident in its resilience,” LDC said.
In the year to 29 February, LDC generated revenue of EUR4.42bn, up 7.2% on 12 months earlier.
Health out, comfort eating returns … for now
The shopping habits of consumers living under lockdown and concerned about the coronavirus pandemic are leading to some healthy-eating trends “being put on the back-burner”, according to new research from GlobalData.
Nevertheless, GlobalData expects consumer interest in health and wellness to return when the coronavirus crisis eases, with government initiatives also helping to leading to a rebound in demand for healthier fare.
2 Sisters factory staff return after walk-out
Production at a 2 Sisters Food Group plant in the south west of England is back to normal today (8 April) after a group of staff staged a walk-out yesterday over pay and conditions.
Workers on the morning shift at 2 Sisters’ poultry-processing factory in Willand in Devon did not report for work yesterday. The company said today all staff are “back to work as normal”.
“Yesterday morning a small percentage of workers sought clarification from management on pay arrangements and terms and conditions during the coronavirus crisis. Following briefings they are now clear on the options available to them and everyone is back to work as normal,” a spokesperson for the site said.
Two weeks ago, 2 Sisters said it was hiring “several hundred” workers across its UK-based businesses – poultry, bakery and meal solutions – to cope with an upsurge in demand from coronavirus.
Maple Leaf Foods’ employees test positive
Maple Leaf Foods, the Canada-based meat packer, said four employees have tested positive for Covid-19 at two of its plants.
Coronavirus – Cargill ‘shuts US meat plant’
Over the border, US agri-food business Cargill has reportedly closed a meat plant in Pennsylvania temporarily due to coronavirus.
The site in the city of Hazelton was closed on Tuesday (7 March) and will remain shut until further notice, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Minnesota-based business.
just-food has approached Cargill to confirm the closure and ascertain the reasons behind the move.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage worldwide, on our analysis pages Lucy Britner looks further ahead to suggest how the crisis could change consumer behaviour.
“The entire planet is in various stages of lockdown. This unprecedented time in our history has effectively shut down swathes of the foodservice sector, closed bars and pubs and sparked a jump in the use of grocery e-commerce, leading food retailers worldwide to invest quickly (and heavily) in their online supply chains.
“In the week to 21 March, UK grocery retail sales jumped 45% as shoppers, concerned about the infectious nature of Covid-19, flocked to stores and online to stock up.
“Locked-down consumers also sought solace online in other ways. Consumers of all ages have also had to find new ways to communicate, with the download of online apps booming. So, what does all this mean for the future?”
Read in full: The consumer trends to look for beyond Covid-19
UK retail giant Tesco reports annual results – and discusses Covid-19 impact
Some coronavirus-related factlets coming from Tesco’s announcements of its full-year financial results this morning:
- Tesco said it saw “significant panic-buying” in the UK “in the first few weeks of the crisis”, which the grocer equated to a “circa 30% uplift in sales”
- In the last two weeks, Tesco has recruited more than 45,000 staff
- Tesco has “stepped up” capacity in online business by more than 20% but adds: “There is simply not enough capacity to supply the whole market.”
- The retailer estimated extra costs linked to the Covid-19 crisis in the 2020/21 financial year could be GBP650-925m (US$804-1.14bn)
The retailer’s presentation gave a snapshot of how Covid-19 had affected sales by category.
Spain eases restrictions on farm workers
Spain has loosened regulations covering the hiring of temporary workers in the country’s agriculture sector.
Cloetta in talks about temporary job cuts as Covid-19 bites
European confectionery manufacturer Cloetta said it has started a dialogue with employees over the prospect of temporary layoffs after it confirmed pick-and-mix sales had been hit by lower demand as a result of disruption from the coronavirus outbreak.
Real Good Food expects “material impact” on sales as new fiscal year starts
UK baker Real Good Food has reported an increase in annual revenues and profits but the UK-based firm said it expects a “material impact” on sales from Covid-19 in the first quarter of its new financial year.
Simply Good Foods builds inventories as Covid-19 boosts e-commerce sales
After The Simply Good Foods Co., the US-based health snacks maker, reports its latest financial results, Simon Harvey reports on how the company has ramped up inventories and shifted the focus of its marketing spending as more consumers shop online rather than in retail stores amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Nestle facing production challenges – CEO
Mark Schneider, the CEO of Nestlé, has admitted the world’s largest food maker has been unable to hit its “normal” production levels during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Schneider said the KitKat and Maggi owner had faced issues along the supply chain.
Kraft Heinz makes about-turn on sales guidance amid “very strong” Covid-19 led demand
Kraft Heinz has made an about-turn on its financial guidance for the year as the US food giant expects “very strong consumer demand” linked to coronavirus to drive positive growth in sales.
Understanding the impact of the Covid-19 crisis with GlobalData
A message from our publisher: at 3pm today UK (10:00 EST), two of GlobalData’s analysts are hosting a free webinar on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the consumer-goods sector.
The sessions will last approximately 30 minutes and cover the impact the crisis has had on the world’s major economies, with details on revisions to GDP growth forecasts.
GlobalData analysts Stuart Ravens and Katie Page will also discuss how governments have responded to the outbreak, covering testing and clinical trial delays.
They will also set out specific implications for the consumer sector, including updated forecasts, as well as outlining how companies have responded.
You can register here.
Tyson Foods suspends pork production in Iowa after Covid-19 cases
In the US, meat titan Tyson Foods has suspended operations at a pork plant in Iowa after more than “two dozen” employees contracted coronavirus.
Kroger outlines changes to promote ‘social distancing’
Kroger has become the latest major US grocer to announce plans to implement measures to encourage social distancing in its stores.
The retailer, which runs almost 2,800 stores in the US, is to cut the number of customers that shop in its outlets at any one time by half.
“Kroger’s introduction of customer capacity limits is one more way we are doing our part to flatten the curve while operating as an essential business, providing our customers with access to fresh, affordable food and products,” Mary Ellen Adcock, Kroger’s senior vice president of operations, said. “During this national pandemic, we are committed to adopting preventive measures to help protect the safety and health of our associates, customers and communities.”
Among other measures, Kroger is encouraging its staff to wear protective masks and gloves. The retailer is also trialling one-way aisles in certain stores in order to “determine its effectiveness as a measure to further support physical distancing”.
Post Holdings’ Weetabix looking for staff to meet growing demand
Weetabix, the UK breakfast-cereal business owned by US manufacturer Post Holdings, is recruiting staff as it tries to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mars puts up Covid-19 cash
Mars has pledged US$20m “to better support the communities” in which the US food giant operates.
The Snickers and Wrigley owner has set out a series of measures, including $5m donation to support the non-governmental organisation CARE in its work supporting women, children and the refugees in the developing world.
Mars is to make a $2m donation to the United Nations’ World Food Programme and a further $1m to Humane Society International (HSI) to help cats and dogs that have been abandoned. The company is one of the largest pet-food and pet-care businesses worldwide.
Grant Reid, Mars’ CEO, said: “We’re announcing a commitment of $20m in cash and in-kind product donations to support the hundreds of communities where we live and work, or whom we depend upon for our agricultural ingredients. We’re all in this together and we want to do our part to help those most in need.”
“We are seen as saviours. That’s a remarkable change” – French food companies on doing business during Covid-19
One of our correspondents covering France, Sophie Kevany, has spoken to a clutch of firms operating in the country about the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on business.
“For several years now, we [the agri-food sector] have been regularly criticised and vilified by animal activists or for our use of plant protection products. But today, we are seen as saviours, almost as much as health workers, refilling empty supermarket shelves. That’s a remarkable change for us,” Eureden chairmen Serge Le Bartz and Georges Galardon told her.
Grupo Calvo hires 50 additional staff
Grupo Calvo, the canned seafood producer based in Spain, has hired an additional 50 workers to cope with the increased demand related to the coronavirus crisis.
Simply Good Foods pulls guidance amid swings in demand
The Simply Good Foods Co. has withdrawn its financial guidance after Covid-19 caused swings in retail demand for the US-based firm’s assortment of nutrition bars, salty snacks and confectionery.
Reporting results for the second quarter, with sales up more than 83% to US$227m, the company said today (6 April) it witnessed “volatile foot traffic” in March, with the month beginning strongly but then tailing off in the latter half.
Lancaster Colony employee tests positive
One of US food group Lancaster Colony’s employees has tested positive for Covid-19 and is now in self-isolation at home.
The Ohio-based firm said the member of staff had reported the illness last week and was not at work at the time. The employee is now under quarantine for 14 days on full pay.
Confidence among UK consumer has tumbled towards levels last seen in the 2008 financial crisis.
Researchers at GfK have reported UK consumer confidence stood at a score of minus 34 at the end of March, down from minus 7 in February.
In mid-March, before the UK announced its own so-called lockdown measures, consumer confidence in the country stood at minus 9, as per the GfK figures.
Analysts at UK stockbrokers Shore Capital said this morning: “Each week that goes by of lockdown, turns the pressure on the British economy another notch. The Chancellor has been brave, nay heroic, in his efforts to support wages and liquidity of some businesses.
“Whilst so, it is also evident that the administrators are becoming busier and busier. As such, many folks are, understandably feeling more worried about what emerges on the other side of coronavirus. These worries are most clearly manifested in the GfK consumer confidence data, data that brings home some of the economic reality of this crisis.”
Canadian pork giant Olymel hits out at “untrue” allegations
Olymel, the Canadian pork processor, is the latest food company to move to rebut allegations about its business during the crisis.
In a statement on Friday (3 April), the company hit out at the “untruthful and irresponsible information” circulated on social networks that day alleging “to the effect that products from its pork processing facility in Yamachiche could transmit the Covid-19 virus”.
Olymel announced last week it had temporarily closed the plant in Quebec due to a number of Covid-19 cases among employees.
Olymel’s statement on Friday pointed to official guidance from international experts about the lack of a link between food and Covid-19.
“All Olymel food processing facilities are under the jurisdiction and constant supervision of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA and public health officials who are monitoring the disease closely make the same observation and have not found any example of transmission of COVID-19 in a food. This information is also based on scientific research from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which claims to have found no evidence that food is a source or a route of transmission,” it said.
“In addition to the hygiene, food safety and quality control measures applied in normal times in Olymel facilities, the company has deployed numerous measures to counter the spread of the coronavirus since the beginning of March. The company invites its employees to strictly follow these measures and has even applied a protocol developed by public health services for all of its establishments, including that of Yamachiche.”
Sanderson Farms cuts output estimate as Covid-19 wrecks havoc on foodservice
Sanderson Farms, the US-based poultry major that has had 15 positive Covid-19 cases, has lowered its production estimate for the year as the virus wrecks havoc on its mainstay foodservice business.
Germany loosens restrictions on foreign agricultural workers
Germany has eased its Covid-19 restrictions on foreign workers to help its agriculture industry.
ABF management take cut in pay
Associated British Foods, which owns bread maker Allied bakeries and Primark clothing stores, said its chief executive and finance chief will take a cut in salaries to help in the battle against coronavirus.
CEO George Weston and finance director John Bason requested a temporary 50% reduction in pay, which has been approved by the board. In addition, bonuses due to executive directors will not be paid, while Paul Marchant, the CEO of Primark, has also requested his base pay be cut temporarily by 50%.
The non-executive directors of the ABF board, including chairman Michael McLintock, have decided their fees should be reduced temporarily by 25%.
“The board, including the executive management team, believes that these steps are appropriate given its expectation that full-year earnings will now be much lower than envisaged at the start of the financial year,” ABF said in a statement. “The board is acutely aware that many Primark employees will see their livelihoods affected by Covid-19.”
Gluten-free major Dr. Schär has decided to give production workers a 15% bonus for each hour worked during the crisis.
“As a family business, we take it for granted to support our employees in these critical times,” Dr. Schär CFO Brigitte Kurz said. “For our employees, simply taking all the necessary safety precautions to master this challenge did not seem sufficient to us.”
Coronavirus – Agropur cuts staff levels
Canadian dairy cooperative Agropur is putting some non-essential workers on temporarily leave and eliminating other positions as a result of coronavirus.
Covid-19 – India’s food industry hit by production, supply disruption
As Raghvendra Verma, our correspondent in New Delhi reports, India’s packaged food industry has been hit hard by the country’s 21-day national lockdown, with most factories closed and their supply chains disrupted, leading to distribution effectively being suspended nationwide.
PepsiCo to donate US$45m to coronavirus fight
US food and beverages giant PepsiCo is putting up US$45m to help fight the global battle against coronavirus, including buying protective gear for frontline workers.
Our contributing editor Ben Cooper has spoken to Tim Rycroft, COO of UK industry body Food and Drink Federation, to hear his reflections on how the sector has coped with coronavirus thus far. (FREE TO READ).
European dairy body calls for EU help against impact of Covid-19
The European Dairy Association (EDA) has asked the European Commission (EC) to help to protect the sector against the impact of coronavirus.
Bakkavor suspends financial guidance amid coronavirus uncertainty
Bakkavor, which warned in February the UK food business was seeing a “significant impact” from coronavirus, is now pulling financial guidance and suspending its annual dividend payment.
BRF to hire thousands to maintain production during Covid-19
Brazilian meat giant BRF has announced that it is hiring more than 2,000 people to maintain production and supply during the coronavirus outbreak.
US food group General Mills has announced measures to help it deal with Covid-19, including asking office staff to help out on production lines.
It has also announced enhanced benefits for plant employees, including a daily bonus, and said it will contribute US$5m in charitable grants to support food access in its key global markets and support for “our manufacturing communities” around the world.
CEO Jeff Harmening said: “Our most important objectives are the continued health and safety of our employees and our ongoing ability to serve our consumers around the world. We see it as imperative that we help ensure a steady and reliable food supply for people and pets.”
The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has linked up with job recruitment app Syft to support members during the Covid-19 crisis.
The trade body said the partnership will offer a “lifeline” by helping to fill vacancies across the food and drink supply chain.
Syft will work with the FDF’s food and drink members to help them access a database of more than 33,000 workers to fill essential jobs.
FDF’s chief operating officer Tim Rycroft said: “The FDF wanted to provide a solution for those who may be struggling to find work from other sectors and move them into food and drink where possible and Syft provides this opportunity. We hope this is the first of similar collaborations so sectors can share expertise and resources while the country navigates its way through this difficult time.”
Covid-19 – Lamb Weston latest food company to pull guidance
Lamb Weston Holdings, the US potato products manufacturer, has become the latest company to pull its annual guidance amid the Covid-19 crisis.
From yesterday’s first-quarter results conference call from US giant McCormick & Co., Simon Harvey reports on how the French’s mustard and Schwartz herbs owner is trying to adapt to the crisis.
McCormick predicts another difficult quarter but D2C sales cushion Covid-19 impact
Bakkavor under fire over sick pay, social distancing
UK private-label food firm Bakkavor is facing criticism over its business practices during the coronavirus crisis.
Conagra Brands expects to exceed guidance spurred by Covid-19-led retail gains
While many packaged food companies are withdrawing financial guidance because of the uncertainties related to coronavirus, US food major Conagra Brands expects to exceed its previously announced outlook.
McCormick withdraws financial guidance as Covid-19 weighs on sales
McCormick & Co. has withdrawn its full-year financial guidance as the US-based spices and sauces maker said first-quarter sales were pressured by the coronavirus outbreak.
The French’s mustard and Schwartz herbs owner said the negative impact on sales from Covid-19 in the three months ended 29 February amounted to 3%, but added the company is “well-positioned” to deal with the crisis due to its “stable cash generation and access to liquidity”.
UK grocery spending jumped 28% amid Covid-19 rush – Kantar
Consumers in the UK increased their grocery shop over a four-week period as the coronavirus crisis caused more people to eat at home as restaurants and entertainment outlets closed to contain its spread.
Data from Kantar for the fours weeks to 22 March, the day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown, showed the average UK household spent an extra GBP62.92 (US$77.73) on food shopping during the period. The rise in spending was more pronounced in London, where it climbed 26%.
South Africa’s Astral Foods has hit out at “fake” Covid-19 claims. The poultry producer Astral Foods has slammed a “fake report”, circulated on social media and depicted as a “television news type screenshot”, that said some of its employees had tested positive for coronavirus – and that the country’s health minister has ordered the shutdown of one of the company’s production facilities.
Astral insisted the report was “false”, reporting the claims to a government platform, email@example.com.
“No Astral employee has tested positive for the Coronavirus COVID-19, and Astral condemns this fake news in the strongest possible terms. The company would like to assure all its stakeholders including shareholders, consumers, customers, suppliers and employees that this false news story is completely unfounded,” the company said in a statement.
Mars to reopen Netherlands plant after Covid-19-related shutdown
Mars will reopen a chocolate production plant in the Netherlands today (31 March) shut down around a week ago due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Lindt & Sprungli abandons 2020 financial targets in light of Covid-19
Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprüngli has said its 2020 financial targets are “no longer valid” as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Brazil’s JBS ‘cuts beef production’ at US plant
Brazilian meat giant JBS reportedly plans to cut beef production at a facility in Pennsylvania in the US for two weeks as a precautionary measure against the deadly coronavirus.
Australia’s TasFoods pulls guidance, cuts wasabi operations
In Australia, listed business TasFoods has withdrawn its financial guidance due to the global uncertainties from the coronavirus outbreak and is having to reduce wasabi production as foodservice sales decline.
Woolworths Ltd, Australia’s largest grocer, has announced plans to “temporarily” change its policy on paying small suppliers.
At present, small trade suppliers to Woolworths’ supermarkets division are paid within 14 days. Across the rest of the retailer’s business, payment terms for small suppliers do not exceed 30 days.
Woolworths said today (31 March) its payment terms would be “aligned” across the group and will not exceed 14 days.
Stephen Harrison, Woolworths’ CFO, said: “We recognise that right now many of our small supplier partners are facing additional challenges in the current climate and we want to do our bit to further help them out by shortening payment terms across the group.
“By paying our small suppliers faster, we hope to ease some of the financial pressure many of them are currently experiencing amid the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Canadian meat processor Olymel shuts Yamachiche plant amid Covid-19 cases
Olymel, the pork and poultry processor that is part of Canada’s Solio Cooperative Group, has temporarily closed a plant in Quebec due to a number of Covid-19 cases among employees.
An opinion piece from just-food news editor Simon Harvey in the wake of Greencore‘s trading update (and the subsequent fall in its share price) this morning:
As Greencore gets punished, is it time for UK stock market suspension, too?
Our free-to-read round-up of the major political and economic updates related to Covid-19 has just gone live and can be found here.
UK union calls for social distancing in food factories
The UK and Ireland’s largest trade union, Unite, has called for a mandatory two-metre social distancing to be put in place for those working in the food industry.
It has urged George Eustice, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), to introduce the measure to protect those working on production lines in processing plants during the coronavirus crisis.
Unite’s call comes after last week’s walkout by workers at meat processor Moy Park’s site in Portadown, Northern Ireland, over concerns about health and safety protections for the workforce.
In the spirit of offering what support we can during the crisis, our publisher GlobalData has put together a free report to help you understand the outbreak, its economic impact and implications for specific sectors.
You can download it here.
A new working week and there have been a series of developments over the weekend and on Monday.
UK manufacturer Greencore suspends guidance, puts some workers on leave
Greencore is suspending financial guidance amid the uncertainty from coronavirus as the Ireland-based business said it is seeing a “marked reduction” at the retail level for its food-to-go categories.
The London-listed convenience foods manufacturer said in an exchange filing today (30 March) it is “tightening” its production network for food-to-go products and putting associated workers on leave by means of the government’s job retention scheme recently announced to support businesses through the crisis.
UK charity Concordia, which recruits seasonal labour for the country’s agricultural industry, sounds a warning on the lack of workers available to pick crops.
According to UK newspaper The Observer, Concordia has highlighted the problems of recruiting staff from countries that have closed borders to try to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
You can read the full story here.
2 Sisters CEO in video appeal for workers to “feed the nation”
2 Sisters Food Group has created a video featuring chief executive Ronald Kers appealing for workers to fill “several hundred” roles as the UK-based poultry and ready meals producer faces a surge in demand from the Covid-19 crisis.
Last week, a spokesperson for the owner of Fox’s Biscuits and Holland’s Pies said the company had launched a recruitment drive across its business for “several hundred” roles.
Vitasoy blames Covid-19 for profit warning
Vitasoy International Holdings, the Hong Kong-listed, plant-based food and beverage business, has issued a profit warning. It said its sales have been hit by the enforcement of measures linked to Covid-19 and social unrest in the territory.
The firm, which makes products such as soya milk and tofu under its own name, told the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) in a statement it expects to record a “substantial decrease” in profit attributable to shareholders for the year ending 31 March.
M. Dias Branco sets up Covid-19 crisis committee
Brazilian pasta and biscuits maker M. Dias Branco has revealed it has established a crisis committee to help it steer a path through the coronavirus crisis.
Canadian meatpacker Harmony Beef halted slaughter on Friday (27 March) due to a positive Covid-19 test from one of its workers, it has been revealed.
News agency Reuters reports that its Balzac, Alberta packing plant was closed after the company was informed by Alberta’s health department that a worker who had not been on the job for days had tested positive, The company then sent the other workers in his part of the slaughter area home for 14 days, even though they did not display symptoms. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has kept some inspectors from work, due to the Harmony worker’s positive result.
CFIA said it did not provide inspection services on Friday as a result. Federally-regulated slaughter plants are not allowed to operate without inspectors present.
Harmony was hoping to fully re-open today pending talks with CFIA.
Unsurprisingly, more trade shows have announced their cancellation or postponement.
This year’s Natural & Organic Products Europe, which takes place annually in London, has been cancelled.
The organiser has said the next edition will be on 18 and 19 April 2021 at the city’s ExCel centre, which is being converted by the UK government into an emergency field hospital.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the Free From Functional & Health Ingredients and Free From Packaging events, which were to take place at the RAI Amsterdam from 24 to 25 June, will be postponed to 24-25 November.
Our free-to-read round-up of the major political and economic updates related to Covid-19 has just gone live and can be found here.
Dairy major Saputo eyes post-coronavirus M&A
Saputo, the international dairy group, believes there will be more opportunity for acquisitions in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Nomad Foods sees Covid-19 sales boost in Italy
Nomad Foods, the UK-based frozen-food specialist which owns the Findus and Iglo brands, has seen its market share increase in Italy as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
French dairy giant Danone, has said it is “taking radical measures” to strengthen the resilience of its teams and value chain.
CEO Emmanuel Faber announced on social media a financial support package of EUR250m (US$275.1m) for the 15,000 small businesses in its “global ecosystem” (farmers, suppliers, service providers).
Faber said all employment contracts are secured and wages guaranteed for the 100,000 Danone employees worldwide until 30 June and that there is “extensive coverage” (health, childcare, quarantine) for all employees worldwide.
He added that there would be a specific bonus for all employees working on site during the pandemic.
Coronavirus stops UK baker Finsbury’s earnings guidance
Finsbury Food Group, the UK bakery-products supplier, today (27 March) warned the coronavirus outbreak meant it could not provide investors with guidance on the company’s earnings.
Covid-19 – Nestle staff to get three months pay
Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has set out what it will pay staff affected by “temporary stoppages” caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Orkla has announced it will provide a “preliminary sales update” for the first quarter of 2020 on 17 April “in light of the Covid-19 situation”.
The company’s full first-quarter results will be announced on 5 May.
PepsiCo has re-opened a temporarily closed Frito-Lay plant in the US. The food and beverages giant had shut its Frito-Lay snacks plant in Modesto, California, after a number of employees showed signs of coronavirus systems but it has now reopened.
The company said it took precautionary steps to identify and notify individuals who had worked closely with the affected employees who went into self-quarantine for the required 14 days on full pay, according to a statement.
After conducting “deep cleaning” of the site it reopened on the 25 March and all staff that could not go into work during the closure will also receive full pay. A spokesperson for PepsiCo would not reveal the length of time the plant was closed for.
European dairy giant Arla Foods has issued a Covid-19-related message to its farmer-owners and the wider market.
Peter Tuborgh, CEO of the Denmark-based cooperative said: “I have been in the dairy sector throughout my working life and have experienced quite a few crises. But this one is absolutely unparalleled.”
He said the business has two main priorities during this crisis.
“The first is to protect the health and welfare of our employees – ie. both the employees at Arla’s farms and colleagues who work at our dairies, in the distribution and in our offices. We follow the guidance of national health authorities and governments and have taken the necessary measures to protect our employees,” he said.
“The second is to keep our production going – to secure our supply chain so that we continue to collect milk from all our farmers and maintain a steady flow of dairy products to customers and consumers.”
Tuborgh said the company is prioritising the supply of the products that are most important to people at this time.
“As the virus peaks around the various countries and regions, we expect our system to be further burdened. We constantly monitor and manage potential risks, have solid action plans in place and are confident that our core activities will continue to be stable,” he said.
Netherlands-based Vion Food Group has said in its outlook for the rest of this year that coronavirus is creating “major uncertainties” in the foodservice part of its business.
The group, best known for its meat products but which has recently moved into the plant-based arena, said in a market update that the outbreak has created a major change in consumption patterns as people are no longer eating out but are eating at home.
“The sale of meat to restaurants and hotels has come to a standstill, while deliveries to supermarkets have significantly increased. The turnover of convenience meat products, such as minced meat, is increasing in comparison to more luxurious products,” it said.
“These shifts have a major impact on the valorisation of meat, causing the relationship between purchase and selling prices to shift as well.”
Vion said it is doing everything in its power to responsibly continue production and is “working in close cooperation with governments in the Netherlands and Germany to keep the supply of food up to par during this crisis”.
Across our portfolio of publications, today we’ve kicked off a round-up of the key, global, political developments in response to the outbreak.
The daily digest also includes need-to-know commentary from international political and economic institutions.
And, importantly, it’s free-to-read.
Covid-19 crisis briefing – key daily updates from governments and commentators, 26 March
Moy Park sees staff walk out over Covid-19 safety fears
UK meat processor Moy Park has seen workers at one of its plants stage a walkout over Covid-19 safety fears.
The Northern Ireland-based company, owned by US poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride, said 100 workers downed tools to stage a 15-minute walkout at its Seagoe, Portadown, plant yesterday (25 March), although trade union Unite claimed the figure was closer to 1,000.
Muller in UK and Ireland recruitment drive
Müller, the German dairy giant, is looking to take on an additional 300 employees in the UK and Ireland to cope with extra demand during the Covid-19 outbreak.
2 Sisters taking on “several hundred” workers to meet demand
2 Sisters Food Group is hiring “several hundred” workers across its UK-based businesses – poultry, bakery and meal solutions – to cope with the upsurge in demand from coronavirus.
Brazilian meat giant JBS has said it does not see any major impact from having to switch business from foodservice to retail.
Responding to analysts’ questions in a post-2019 results conference call, the company – which revealed that 10% of its global business is in the foodservice channel – said the drop off in foodservice business as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak will have no impact on margins “as long as total consumption does not change”.
It added: “In Brazil, for example, where we make hamburgers for the chains, when they reduce the volumes we can transfer that easily to retail.”
Nestlé has joined forces with charities the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in a response to Covid-19.
In a statement, the Switzerland-based food giant said: “We care deeply for people and for the communities in which we operate, and we have an essential role to play during the Covid-19 crisis. Food and beverages help keep people healthy and enhance their quality of life. We care about our responsibility to provide good nutrition, especially for the most vulnerable in society – children, the elderly and those struggling with illness.”
Nestlé also said it is “working tirelessly” to ensure that supply is maintained. It said it has implemented enhanced safety measures at all its sites, with particular focus on frontline workers in its factories, quality labs and distribution centres.
“Also, where needed, we are offering free meals and transport for staff to help reduce the risk they fall ill. In addition, we have put in place generous sick leave arrangements for those who contract the virus and will provide cash loans or advances for those in financial distress,” it said.
This afternoon, we ran a piece featuring four SMEs operating in the UK asking what impacts they have felt from the outbreak so far and how they are trying to adapt.
You can read the piece – for free – below:
“We’re all in the same boat. Stay level-headed and positive” – UK and Irish food SMEs on coping with coronavirus
Analyst predicts 20% food-at-home sales surge in US
Investment research company Sanford Bernstein has reported that US-centric food companies are experiencing a “major surge in demand” as panic buying has led to surging sales growth across the country.
Hilton Food Group results delayed but all facilities remain open
UK-based Hilton Food Group has announced a delay in the publication of its annual results as a result of coronavirus but said all its facilities remain open despite the crisis. Hilton is the first UK food group to delay the release of its results since the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), wrote to companies intending to publish preliminary financial statements in the next few days asking them to delay their planned publication because of Covid-19-linked uncertainty.
Keytone sees increased demand for milk powder products
Keytone Dairy said it is experiencing a surge in demand for its milk powder products both from its branded customer base and also private-label clients in the New Zealand-based firm’s domestic and international markets.
London-based baby food and infant formula firm Piccolo has opened an online ‘shop’ to help parents who are struggling to buy baby and toddler nutrition products from their usual retail outlets because of Covid-19-linked pressure on supplies. The company’s products can now be ordered directly from its website.
Australia’s Beston Global Food Co. said it is continuing to experience solid demand for its products notwithstanding some down-turn in activity in foodservice outlets across the country in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It said retail demand is strong for mozzarella cheese and for meat products produced by its Provincial Food Group in particular, through supermarkets and home delivery services.
The company recorded revenues of AUD51.2m (US$30.9m) in the first half of this 2019-20 financial year and expects revenues in H2 to be “at least of the same order, pending any unforeseen consequences from the current pandemic”.
Foodservice distributor US Foods has announced it is reducing costs because of the impact the Covid-19 outbreak has had on the channel.
CEO Pietro Satriano said: “While the full business impact of Covid-19 is not yet known, we are taking immediate action to reduce our costs to match the slowdown we’re seeing in restaurant, hospitality and education case volume. We are also leveraging our supply chain resources to support the retail industry as they experience unprecedented increases in consumer demand.”
US Foods said it believes its strong balance sheet will enable it to weather the economic impact of Covid-19. It has drawn US$1bn under its existing revolving credit facilities to retain as cash on hand.
Unilever makes Covid-19 pledge to SME suppliers
Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has pledged to help customers and suppliers that are struggling because of the Covid-19 outbreak. In an announcement today, the Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream maker said it will offer EUR500m (US$541.5m) of cash flow relief to “support livelihoods across its extended value chain”.
Aryzta envisages “material impact” as conditions deteriorate
Some less-than-good news from Aryzta this morning, with the bakery giant saying it now expects a “material impact” on its business this year from coronavirus as market conditions and “prospects” have worsened over the past week or more.
UK food industry SMEs “in crisis” following retailer de-listings
A survey of UK-based food industry SMEs found they are increasingly pivoting to e-commerce as retailers de-prioritise their products to concentrate on core offerings during the Covid-19 crisis.
London-based consultancy Young Foodies questioned senior brand representatives from 45 small- and medium-sized food businesses and found SMEs are dealing with major challenges to their businesses and livelihoods and are concerned they might be faced with a “war-time grocery market” within weeks.
Only minority of UK shoppers stockpiling – Kantar
A survey looking at retail shopping habits in the UK during the coronavirus crisis revealed extra demand in supermarkets is largely being driven by people adding a few additional items to their baskets and making more trips rather than shoppers buying the same item in bulk.
Mondelez looking to boost employee numbers to meet Covid-19 demand
US food giant Mondelez International said it expects to hire 1,000 additional “frontline” employees in its domestic market.
Sanderson Farms instigates further safety measures after employee tests positive for virus
US chicken business Sanderson Farms has initiated precautionary measures after one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus.
Tulip, the UK pork processor owned by US meat major Pilgrim’s Pride, is preparing to create temporary job opportunities.
Openings will be available in production roles and “other key roles to provide cover when necessary”, Tulip said.
Rachel Baldwin, the company’s vice president for human resources, said: “Tulip is looking to ensure we have enough people in place to keep our manufacturing sites operating as and when people take time out of work to care for themselves and their loved ones. This is an unprecedented time for the UK food industry and we’d like to thank all of our colleagues and staff across the sector who are doing an incredible job to keep up with the current high demand and keeping shelves stocked across the UK.”
FoodDrinkEurope calls on Brussels to relieve Covid-19 supply chain pressure
Trade body FoodDrinkEurope is asking the European Commission to intervene to relieve supply chain pressure during the coronavirus epidemic.
The body, which represents food and beverage companies operating in Europe, said it has identified five pressure points putting a particular strain on the food supply chain.
FoodDrinkEurope director general Mella Frewen said: “If we act on these five areas now, we believe we can avoid serious disruptions to food and drink supplies to consumers and safeguard our jobs and businesses.”
The UK’s competition regulator has announced plans to set up a Covid-19 “taskforce” to monitor the market and clamp down on firms “exploiting these exceptional circumstances”.
“The outbreak of Covid-19 is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge that has prompted many concerns that businesses might exploit the situation to take advantage of people, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about their products,” the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.
“The Covid-19 virus, and the measures taken to suppress its impact on public health, are likely to have a substantial impact on competition, with the risk of an increase in consumer detriment.”
On Friday, the CMA issued an open letter to the food, drink and pharma industries, revealing it had “received reports that a minority of firms in your sector are seeking to capitalise on the current situation by charging unjustifiably high prices for
essential goods or making misleading claims around their efficacy”.
The CMA said: “We are sure that you share our concerns not just about the unacceptability of such practices in the current circumstances, but also the risk of undermining public trust more widely across these sectors. If appropriate, the CMA has recourse to a range of competition and consumer powers to tackle bad behaviour. It is therefore vital that any poor behaviour is nipped in the bud now and we will use all of the powers available to us to ensure that markets continue to work well during the coronavirus outbreak.”
The Consumer Goods Forum, a network of 400 of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies including Nestle, Danone and Kellogg, has cancelled its annual summit.
The four-day event was due to take place from 16 to 19 June in London.
“It is not a decision we have taken lightly but, given the pandemic that is impacting our industry and the people we care most about, we felt it is the right thing to do,” The Consumer Goods Forum said in a statement.
“We would like to take this opportunity to stress that this is not going to stop us bringing members together. The Global Summit may well be the flagship event for our industry, bringing together over 1,000 CEOs and c-suite executives, but we firmly believe that the need for collaboration and knowledge sharing has never been higher. We will, therefore, look at how we continue to bring members together virtually and help ensure momentum around our key strategic initiatives, as well as on mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on our supply chains and stores.”
PepsiCo to hire more workers, offers compensatory pay benefits
PepsiCo plans to take on 6,000 new workers over the “coming months” to meet the extra retail demand from the Covid-19 outbreak as the food and beverages giant announced compensation packages for its US-based employees.
The packages will apply to more than 90,000 “frontline” staff at its beverages and food divisions across North America and “consists of a minimum of an incremental US$100 per week for full-time employees over the next month”. The additional full-time workers will be offered full company benefits, PepsiCo said in a statement.
US foodservice supplier Sysco turns focus onto retail
Sysco, the US foodservice distribution giant, has turned its attention to the retail grocery market as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
As so many foodservice outlets have been forced to close as a result of the outbreak, Sysco has been forced to look again at its business model.
Candy giant Cloetta withdraws dividend amid Covid-19 pressure
Cloetta, the European confectionery supplier, has pulled plans to issue a dividend to shareholders, warning the risk of a “negative financial impact” on the business “from the end of March has increased significantly”.
The company added: “Given the current uncertainty due to the global outbreak of Covid-19 and potential governmental response, it is not at this point possible to predict the full potential impact on our business. However, with the rapid spread of the coronavirus now heavily impacting markets where Cloetta has a presence and the currencies the group is exposed to, we believe that the risk of adverse effects has increased significantly.”
Meanwhile, food major 2 Sisters Food Group has announced it has job vacancies across its processing sites in the country.
In a series of tweets issued on Friday (20 March) and this morning, 2 Sisters said it had either temporary or permanent (or both) openings at eight plants.
Ireland’s farmers have described the decision by McDonald’s to close its outlets in the country and in the UK as a “big blow” to the Irish beef sector.
“McDonald’s is an important buyer of Irish beef. Their closure is a big blow to the sector,” a statement from The Irish Farmers’ Association read.
“Unfortunately, it is reflective of what is happening across Europe where closures have had an impact on the food service sector. However, some of this has been mitigated by an increase in retail demand.”
A number of major retail and foodservice names have, in the last couple of days, announced plans to temporarily close, including UK coffee-shop chain Costa.
Paul Pomroy, the CEO of the McDonald’s business in the UK and Ireland, said yesterday: “Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult and therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23rd March.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and know that our restaurants have been playing an important role in the community providing hundreds of thousands of free drinks to frontline health and social workers and emergency services personnel.
“But I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision to temporarily close.”
Dairy giant Fonterra is among a growing number of food and beverage companies using their production for the manufacture of hand sanitisers.
The New Zealand dairy giant said it is increasing its production capacity for making ethanol.
J&J Snack Foods issues new warning on sales
J&J Snack Foods has warned the impact on its sales from coronavirus could be twice as severe as earlier estimated as more and more foodservice outlets in the US close temporarily to curb its spread.
Nasdaq-listed J&J Snack Foods is now warning two-thirds of its sales to restaurants, schools, stadiums and arenas, movie theatres and amusement parks could be affected based on annual revenues of $1.2bn, compared to a previous estimate of one third, as more venues close their doors.
Comvita postpones capital raise but points to Covid-19 sales boost
New Zealand-based Manuka honey maker Comvita has put capital raising plans on the back burner as demand for its products has noticeably increased in recent weeks.
The company suggested products “considered to support general immunity” are in greater demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.
US plant-based supplier Califia Farms sees boost from Covid-19
In an interview with just-food, Greg Steltenpohl, the CEO of US dairy-alternatives business Califia Farms, set out the impact the outbreak is having on the company.
“The mechanics of the business demand for the particular category we’re in is really unprecedented,” Steltenpohl said, reflecting on the US market for plant-based milks. “We have never seen logistically anything like this before in terms of the need to ramp up production. Our largest distributor asked for four times the usual orders this last week for our top-selling plant-milk SKUs.”
And Steltenpohl believes Califia Farms – which secured US$225m in investor funding in January – and the wider plant-based market could see longer-term gains from the crisis.
“Once things normalise here, our product will probably be even more in demand. I mean, as people have pondered the origin and vectors of not just Covid-19, but the whole series of these types of viruses, they’re coming to understand the animal-base vectors or origin points, so it’s given people a lot more awareness of their own personal health,” he claimed.
You can read the full interview with Steltenpohl here.
Kellogg ramping up cereal production in the UK
US cereal giant Kellogg is the latest food major to announce a recruitment drive in the UK in an attempt to keep up with increased demand linked to the Covid-19 epidemic.
UK food start-ups network and consultancy Young Foodies has criticised a decision by some supermarkets to de-list the products of small brands to concentrate on core product offerings during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Theadora Alexander, co-founder of the organisation, which represents more than a thousand food and drink SMEs, said: “Principally, we understand the move and we are not expecting business as usual by any stretch, but if Morrisons is going to be taking small suppliers off the shelf and putting them at such severe business risk, it should be up to the retailer to provide them with the income continuity. They will be making their sales elsewhere so they will be able to. We cannot have a black and white case of winners and losers.
“We believe that that is the responsibility of the retailer, as per GSCOP [Groceries Supply Code of Practice], to offset any losses as a variation from trade. It’s then up to the retailer to decide whether they need additional support from the government on this matter.
“For now though, there has to be a near-term plug gap on the brands’ side to protect them.”
just-food archive: Young Foodies interview – the challenges facing challenger brands
UK chilled pastry product firm Addo Food Group has announced a recruitment drive. It is seeking temporary employees across its six sites to meet increase demand as a result of Covid-19.
The company, behind the Wall’s and Pork Farms brands, is offering roles to people with all levels of experience within its Spalding, Nottingham, Market Drayton, Shaftesbury and Poole factories.
CEO Deborah Bolton said: “Coronavirus has impacted so many businesses within the hospitality industry already and as workers are being laid off all over the country from restaurants, pubs and bars, we’re pleased to be able to offer temporary positions within our six sites, which may help ease the financial pressure that a lot of people now find themselves in. It’s a really difficult time for people and it’s important that we help where we can.”
The company manufactures savoury quiches, pies, pasties, slices, scotch eggs, sausage rolls and pork pies.
UK grocer competition rules relaxed
The UK government is temporarily relaxing competition regulations to allow the country’s major grocers to work more closely during the Covid-19 outbreak.
UK meat business Moy Park seeking hundreds of new workers to help it meet demand
Moy Park, the UK meat processor owned by US poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride, is seeking “hundreds” of temporary workers to help it meet additional demand resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.
German meal-kit firm HelloFresh is said to be taking on up to 400 temporary staff at its UK distribution centre in Oxfordshire to meet increased demand as a result of coronavirus.
Local newspaper reports said the company, which delivers fresh, pre-portioned ingredients for customers to cook from scratch at home, is experiencing strong growth in its business.
Covid-19 could have profound implications for UK food system – Shore Capital
One of the UK’s well-known food industry analysts has said the Covid-19 outbreak could have a profound impact on the country’s food system as demand shifts from foodservice to grocery retail.
UK industry body warns of meat supply issues
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has warned that increased demand for meat as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to supply issues.
US regulator the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said it plans to focus on the safety of regulated products during the current crisis and is postponing its routine inspection of manufacturing facilities.
“Now more than ever, the American people are depending on us. We must ensure our workforce remains healthy to carry out the FDA’s critical public health mission to keep Americans safe,” it said.
“In keeping with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and cross-government guidance, this week we directed all eligible FDA employees to begin teleworking. While this does not apply to those carrying out non-portable activities, such as certain lab activities or the monitoring of imported products, we will continue to adjust our approach to a number of activities, including facility inspections for all FDA-regulated products such as food, animal feed, drugs, biological products, devices and tobacco.
“Earlier this month, we announced that we are postponing most foreign facility inspections through April and that inspections outside the US deemed mission-critical will be considered on a case-by-case basis as this outbreak continues to unfold.
“Today, we’re announcing that for the health and well-being of our staff and those who conduct inspections for the agency under contract at the state level, and because of industry concerns about visitors, we have temporarily postponed all domestic routine surveillance facility inspections.”
UK fresh food supplier Bidfresh is adding direct-to-consumer home delivery services from its depots around the country in response to the national measures introduced to address the coronavirus outbreak.
The public will be able to order meat, fish and seafood, fruit and veg, dairy and a range of other products. The free delivery service will operate in selected postcodes around the depots and will run alongside Bidfresh’s established business with chef and caterers.
Bleak outlook for Chinese dairy imports
China’s dairy imports are likely to decrease at a double-digit rate this year primarily due to a drop off in demand as a result of Covid-19, according to Rabobank, which predicts the virus and falling oil prices will trigger a global recession.
European food and agri-food bodies FoodDrinkEurope, Copa-Cogeca and Celcaa have issued a joint statement saying that food supplies are facing some disruption at the border.
The organisations said their members are reporting increasing difficulties in their business operations.
“Delays and disruption at country borders have been observed for the delivery of certain agricultural and manufactured products, as well as packaging materials. There is also concern over the movement of workers, notably due to certain border closures and travel restrictions, as well as potential labour shortages as staff follow national movement restrictions to mitigate the crisis,” the statement said.
Synlait experiencing Covid-19 supply chain issues
Synlait, the New Zealand-based dairy and infant-formula manufacturer, said it is experiencing “pressure on the broader supply chain” as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Finland’s Fazer announces temporary lay-offs
Finland-based food manufacturer Fazer has started negotiations with some staff over temporary lay-offs as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Fellow Finnish food group Raisio has cancelled its annual general meeting that was due to take place on 24 March, “based on the announcement by the Finnish government on the coronavirus situation”, A new date for the AGM has not yet been set.
UK online grocer Ocado has suspended its online food delivery service, blaming higher demand than it can meet.
Ocado said that while existing customers with orders would still receive them, it was experiencing a “simply staggering amount of traffic” to its website and more demand for products and deliveries than it could deal with.
Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said we find ourselves in “uncharted waters”.
In a statement, the UK’s largest supermarket’s boss said: “Covid-19 is bringing a change to the UK and it’s clear that lots of things are going to have to shift around in order to help us cope.
“At Tesco, we have been doing everything we can to keep business as usual, but we now have to accept it is not business as usual. In the last two weeks, we have seen significant and prolonged increases in demand across all of our stores and this is leading to shortages in some products for some customers.
“Reacting to the latest government announcements, we have to plan on this situation being the new normal and we will do all that we can to make the food you want available, but we need your help.”
He outlined changes including a store-wide restriction of only three items per customer on every product line, night time closures to allow for re-stocking, elderly and vulnerable only shopping slots and removing multi-buy promotions.
All meat, fish, deli counters and salad bars are to be closed to allow staff to be moved into other parts of the retail operation.
General Mills’ ice cream sales in Asia hit by Covid-19
General Mills said its Asian sales for the third quarter were impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak after the US food major hinted last month that revenues from its Häagen-Dazs ice-cream shops in China would be disrupted.
Analyst Sanford Bernstein is “tactically upgrading” a number of US food firms because of coronavirus-related sales.
Conagra Foods, Campbell Soup Co., General Mills, Kraft Heinz and JM Smucker have been moved from underperform to market-perform by the firm which is expecting a coronavirus-related sales lift and broader economic uncertainties to support stock valuations in the near term.
“On near-term coronavirus implications, based on the latest weekly Nielsen data (week ending 7 March), canned soup, pasta, peanut butter, RTE cereal, and granola bars are among the categories that experienced the most significant incremental sales growth (~10-20%) due to coronavirus-related pantry loading,” it said.
Science in Sport sees revenues slide in Italy as a result of epidemic
Science in Sport, the UK-based nutrition products manufacturer, said it has experienced a sharp reduction in revenues in Italy as a result of the coronavirus contagion, which has prompted that government to put the country into lockdown.
Hormel Foods outlines action taken to combat Covid-19
US-based Hormel Foods has reported that it has taken “prudent action” to protect its business from the spread of coronavirus.
Greencore says too early to judge impact of Covid-19 on its results
Ireland-based private-label food manufacturer Greencore has said its supply chain and production network remains “fully operational” despite the coronavirus outbreak but the impact on its results remains uncertain.
Bubs Australia boosts capacity to meet increased demand
Bubs Australia said it has boosted production capacity and increased shift rotas to meet a rise in demand for infant formula as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and is also building inventories to cater to any further “surges” in orders.
UK supermarkets have announced further measures to help deal with the coronavirus threat and to prevent customer stockpiling.
Tesco, the country’s largest grocer, is to close its 24-hour stores overnight to allow for re-stocking while Sainsbury’s is the latest retailer to put a limit on the number of purchases of certain items. Morrisons has said it will take on an extra 3,500 staff to increase its home delivery capability and reiterated its intention to pay small suppliers immediately. A number of retailers have introduced special shopping hours for the elderly to ensure they can get the groceries they need.
Sanderson Farms introduces strict guidelines for employees
US chicken giant Sanderson Farms has taken robust measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. They include prohibiting employees and members of their households from travelling for personal reasons outside the US.
Supermarkets in the UK, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Aldi have put rationing restrictions on certain items sold in store over the growing pandemic of coronavirus.
European fruit, veg association working to ensure supplies
Freshfel Europe, the Brussels-based association representing fresh fruit and vegetables producers, said it is working with its members to ensure supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen some countries close restaurants and other outlets to curb its spread.
Organic food business Midsona sees a surge in sales
Midsona has increased production as the Sweden-based organic food business has seen increased demand due to coronavirus, with sales of some items up 40% in the first two weeks of March.
Food business entrepreneur John Stapleton, who built up and sold brands New Covent Garden Soup Co. and Little Dish, outlines a number of steps SMEs can take to help them survive coronavirus.
Coronavirus and food industry SMEs – a survival plan
Impossible Foods targets coronavirus fight after raising multi-millions in funding round
Impossible Foods, the US business which makes plant-based burgers and faux pork products, has raised around US$500m in a new fundraising round. It said the funding will help it to fight off the threat of coronavirus.
Murray River Organics sees delays in shipping, orders
Murray River Organics, the Australia-based dried fruit snacks producer, said it has “experienced delays to shipping and orders” in February and March as a result of the coronavirus outbreak but is unable to put a financial estimate on the impact.
Food industry employees asked to work from home as crisis worsens
Kraft Heinz and Cloetta have both asked some employees to work from home in an attempt to lessen the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their operations.
British Meat Processors Association Rethink conference postponed
The British Meat Processors Association has postponed a conference due to be held in London tomorrow (17 March) because of “public health and safety issues” related to the coronavirus outbreak.
J&J Snack Foods warns of potential impact on sales
J&J Snack Foods, the US food business serving retail and foodservice channels, has warned its sales could be impacted by coronavirus as fewer consumers eat out.
Tesco seeks to reassure customers on food supply pipeline
Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, has sought to reassure consumers that its food supply pipeline is robust despite reports of coronavirus-linked panic-buying.
Brazilian meat processor BRF operating normally but protocols in place
Brazilian meat processor BRF said its factories are operating normally but has put protocols in place to tackle any eventualities emerging from the coronavirus outbreak, which has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Italian food producers working flat out to ensure retail supplies but longer-term risks remain
Supermarkets in Italy will stay open through the coronavirus crisis, with a government official saying the country’s food manufacturers are working flat out to ensure supplies.
Premium Brands Holdings seeing impact on seafood sales to China
Premium Brands Holdings, the acquisitive Canadian food firm with businesses stretching across cured meats, meat snacks and seafood, said it is starting to see the impact of coronavirus on sales.
Global Berry Congress postponed as coronavirus spreads in Europe
The Global Berry Congress, which brings together fruit producers from around the world, has been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus in Europe.
Seafood Expo Global and Seafood Processing Global shows postponed
Seafood Expo Global and Seafood Processing Global has become the latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak as organisers cancelled the event due to be held in Brussels next month.
UK government “confident” on food supplies
The UK government has said it is confident that the UK’s food supply will not be interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Bell Food Group cancels AGM because of coronavirus
Switzerland’s Bell Food Group has postponed its 2020 annual general meeting as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The meeting was scheduled for 17 March but has now been put back to 12 May.
Tesco starts rationing some product as panic-buying sets in
Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, has started rationing of certain products, including some foodstuffs, to deter consumers fearing coronavirus-linked shortages from stockpiling goods.
Coronavirus sees FrieslandCampina trim growth forecast
The coronavirus outbreak has led Netherlands-based dairy major FrieslandCampina to reassess how much it sees its core sales growing in 2020.
Campbell ups soup production in anticipation of stockpiling
US food giant Campbell Soup Co. has said it is increasing the production of its soup products in anticipation of coronavirus-linked stockpiling.
Seafood Expo North America latest trade show to fall foul of Covid-19
Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America is the second major US trade show in as many days to be cancelled because of the outbreak of coronavirus.
US food share prices ‘could benefit from coronavirus’
An analyst covering the food industry has suggested that the coronavirus outbreak could turn out to be a net positive for the sector’s stocks.
US trade show Expo West cancelled because of coronavirus
Expo West, the US new products show, has been cancelled at the last minute as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus disease.
High Liner Foods reviewing China supply route
Canada-based seafood firm High Liner Foods has said it has taken action to reduce its reliance on Chinese supplies in light of the coronavirus which originated in the country.
Nestle asks staff not to embark on overseas travel
Switzerland-based food giant Nestlé has asked staff not to embark on international business travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has affected almost 50 countries.
Bakkavor feels ‘significant impact’ from coronavirus in international business
Bakkavor said the coronavirus outbreak in China is having a “significant impact” on the private-label firm’s international business after reporting a “weak” performance in its domestic UK market, which generates the majority of revenues.
Fonterra maintains earnings forecast but coronavirus still a threat
New Zealand’s Fonterra said it could feel the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China on its foodservice division, but for the time being, the world’s largest dairy cooperative is maintaining its full-year earnings guidance.
Danone reveals sales impact forecast
Danone has outlined how coronavirus might affect the French food and beverage giant’s sales performance in the first quarter.
Italy’s farmers’ union warns of disruption
Italy’s food sector is at risk of major disruption from the outbreak of coronavirus in the north of the country, national farmers’ association Coldiretti has warned.
Italy food trade body warns of business impact
Italy’s food industry is monitoring the coronavirus cases in the country and the reaction to the outbreak with “great apprehension”, trade association Federalimentare said today (24 February), warning of the possible impact on the economy and to food exports.
Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo closes plant in China
The coronavirus outbreak in China has forced Mexico-based bakery behemoth Grupo Bimbo to temporarily close a plant in the city of Wuhan, where the disease emerged late last year.
Chile’s salmon exports to China begin to pick up after coronavirus suspension
Salmon farmers in Chile are starting to kick-start exports to China again after suspending shipments amid a drop in demand linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
General Mills’ Haagen-Dazs operation in China hit by virus
US food major General Mills risks seeing its sales decline in Greater China after reporting almost half of its Häagen-Dazs ice-cream shops have been temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Kerry Group guidance factors in potential impact of Covid-19
Kerry Group has issued guidance for its new financial year that factors in a potentially significant decline in earnings from the coronavirus outbreak in China.
China could look to overhaul meat industry in wake of outbreaks
A report from a US investment bank has suggested that China may look to restructure its meat industry following the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), avian flu and the more recent coronavirus.
Nestle bans travel to and from China
Nestlé, the world’s largest food maker, has issued an update on how it has so far reacted to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Coronavirus impact on China consumption ‘to last months’
The coronavirus outbreak in China will hit sales and profits in food-related industries such as retail and entertainment for “several months”, a wide-ranging report from Moody’s has warned.
Jatenergy ups production of lactoferrin to meet coronavirus-linked demand
Australia’s Jatenergy is raising production of lactoferrin-based dairy products to meet increased demand from China, which the company believes is linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus – two Mondelez China plants closed
Mondelez International has been asked by Beijing to keep two of its plants shut beyond the usual period of closures over Chinese New Year due to the coronavirus outbreak.