What’s happening in the world of coronavirus: Bakers call on UK government for assistance, PepsiCo stops production, Campbell reports soaring sales

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

What’s happening in the world of coronavirus: Bakers call on UK government for assistance, PepsiCo stops production, Campbell reports soaring sales

Related tags: coronavirus, Pepsico, Frito-lay, Quaker oats, Real bread campaign, Tunnock's Biscuits, Parle, Bakers basco, Campbell Snacks

PepsiCo has announced the closure of its Frito-Lay site in California, along with some Quaker Oat production lines in Iowa after employees contracted the virus; India’s largest Parle Biscuits is donating biscuits to people in need and Campbell has reported a soar in sales for its snacks.

Real Bread Campaign asks UK prime minister for help

The initiative run by food and farming charity Sustain has called on the UK government to provide support for the country’s small-to-medium sized bakeries.

According to the Real Bread campaign, its network extends to around 900 SME bakery businesses, which are “essential in providing skilled, meaningful jobs locally, helping to retain jobs, keep high streets alive and money circulating in local economies, both now and when the nation enters into recovery (in all senses) from this crisis,”​ the Real Bread’s Chris Young wrote in a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson.

He noted that, while the larger commercial bakeries – especially those supplying the retail sector – are likely to survive the impending recession caused by the coronavirus outbreak, microbakeries and other SME bakery businesses are particularly vulnerable.

His letter added, “Collectively, SME bakery businesses are a vital part of the solution to the urgent need to keep Britain fed safely and well. Many are able to keep baking and re-stocking throughout the day, while supermarket shelves stripped bare by panic buyers will remain empty until the next delivery from a distant factory.”

He is asking for assurance the government will not order the closure of bakery outlets; easy access to grants to cover overheads like rents, staff wages and sick pay; as well as a basic income for self-employed bakers who are unable to work.

PepsiCo’s snacks, cereals production affected by COVID-19 spread

PepsiCo has halted the production of some of its snacks and cereal brands, following the spread of COVID-19 among its employees.

Frito-Lay has closed its factory in Modesto, California, after several workers showed symptoms of the virus. Although COVID-19 is not known to spread through food or food packaging, it has shut the plant – which employs over 600 full-time workers – as a precaution.

The facility will be deep-cleaned according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) requirements.

The employees under quarantine will continue to receive full pay. PepsiCo will also pay the other workers in full for up to 12 weeks.

The snack giant has also  confirmed an employee at its Quaker Oats facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is receiving medical care, while co-workers have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

As a precaution, the Quaker Oats factory has temporarily close certain lines and is performing a deep cleaning of the contacted areas and equipment based on CDC guidelines, using EPA-approved registered products for COVID-19.

Tunnock’s shuts down production of teacakes

The company, who produce their world famous teacakes and caramel wafers, said they were closing their factory in Uddingston, Lanarkshire.

Scottish biscuit giant Tunnock’s has ceased production of its world-famous teacakes to prioritise the health and wellbeing of its staff.

The business is closing its factory in Uddingston, Lanarkshire – where it’s been based for more than 50 years.

The company was founded in 1890 and today, employs around 600 staff.

Fergus Loudon, director of Tunnock’s, said, “Taking into account the most recent government advice and guidance, the directors of Tunnock’s Biscuits have decided that the health and safety of our workforce, always our priority, can now only be safeguarded by the temporary closure of our factory.

“Be assured we have considered every alternative but we firmly believe that closure is the only responsible course of action as things stand.”

He added the company would resume production as soon as it is safe to do so.

Parle Biscuits donates biscuits to people in need during lockdown

India’s leading biscuit manufacturer is playing its part to ease the difficulty of those who have lost their daily income.

It will be distributing free packs of its Parle G biscuits – a source of nutrition to millions of Indians – through state depots over a period of three weeks. According to the company, it is working closely with the country’s Government to find the most effective distribution channels.

Parle G biscuits have a rich legacy of being an essential source of energy during wartime and natural calamities, earning it the moniker of ‘Bharat Ka Apna’ (India’s own) biscuit. The biscuits were made free available during floods in Kerala, Chennai and Maharashtra, and was a staple for Indian armed forces engaged in combat situations such as Kargil War.

“‘In service of the nation” has been a part of our DNA and Parle G is a very special product that has provided comfort to generations of Indians at various times of national distress,”​ said Mayank Shah, senior category head at Parle Biscuits.

“In light of COVID-19 and its devastating economic impact on daily wagers, we have taken a call to provide Parle G packs pan-India through various state distribution channels. We see this as a natural response to the prevailing situation and in line with what Parle-G stands for in the hearts and minds of Indians all over the world.”

Bakers Basco helps to keep UK’s bakery products on the move

According to the Bakers Basco, its member bakers have seen a spike in demand far in excess than previously seen, even during the Christmas peak.

To help its members through this unprecedented crisis, the company is making its equipment available on demand.

“We’d like to reassure all Bakers Basco licensees who are currently seeing a spike in bread sales that they have the added protection of calling on equipment stored by Bakers Basco for such an event,”​ the company said in a statement.

“We’ve already supplied additional baskets and dollies in support of the pool, and all Basco teams are out identifying areas where excess equipment is ready for collection and re-use, thus improving efficiency, cutting down on fuel use and turnaround times. Our dedicated helpline is open to our members seven days a week to help with stock requests.”

Campbell’s snacks, soup and sauce sales soar

Campbell Soup said it is seeing ‘unprecedented demand’ for its products as American stock up for the lockdown.

The food producer said its case orders in its Meals & Beverages segment had risen 366% for the week ending March 21, compared to the year-ago period.

Sales of its Goldfish crackers increased by 22.7% over the past four weeks. Soup consumption is up nearly 60%, while consumption of the Prego sauce brand is up 52.9% over the same period.

The company’s top priorities are to take care of their employees, distribute food as safely and quickly as possible and to solidify how it will operate in this new environment. It is also looking to hire temporary staff for more than 100 positions across its network to meet the increased demand.

Campbell Soup announced a hike in the premium pay for its front-line teams.

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