Campbell Snacks overcomes COVID-19 challenges to complete installation of record-breaking Goldfish line ahead of schedule

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Campbell Snacks has installed a new line at its plant in Willard, Ohio, dubbed 'the Goldfish capital of the world'. Pic: Campbell Snacks
Campbell Snacks has installed a new line at its plant in Willard, Ohio, dubbed 'the Goldfish capital of the world'. Pic: Campbell Snacks

Related tags Campbell Snacks Goldfish crackers coronavirus

The US soup and snacks giant invested $40m and employed a 100-strong team of bakers, engineers and package designers to install ‘the largest of its kind’ production line – fired up ahead of schedule – at its Willard facility.

The Pepperidge Farms bakery in Willard, Ohio, is the largest producer of Campbell Snacks’ Goldfish crackers, earning the town the title 'the Goldfish capital of the world'.

The line – which features a new oven and additional packaging capabilities – produces 11 million individual crackers per day, meaning the site now generates more than 50 million Goldfish daily.

Pepperidge Farms is one of the biggest employers in the Willard community and surrounding areas and the instalment added another 40 new jobs to its 740+ workforce.

COVID-19 challenges

Willard New Line (002)

Commissioned ahead of the coronavirus outbreak, Samantha Cohen, associate manager and communications for Campbell, said “the team’s ability to complete the project ahead of schedule gave us time to fire up the line sooner to help fulfil the increased demand for Goldfish across the country.”

Installation began in December 2019 but was halted in March 2020 for five weeks as COVID-19 protocols were put in place to ensure safety, including testing and mandatory 14-day quarantines for out-of-state team members.

The project team also adopted remote communication tools to maintain contact with key engineering partners in Denmark and Austria unable to travel to the US, using FaceTime, Skype and Microsoft Teams to walk through assembly, despite the seven-hour time differences.

“The pandemic presented our team with obstacles we never could have predicted,”​ said Fernando Garcia Vidal, senior director of Engineering, Campbell Snacks.

“We ended up finishing the project in July, an accomplishment we owe to the dedication of our teammates and our entire Willard bakery family.”

Protocols in place

Goldfish line at Willard

The facility has subsequently implemented ‘aggressive’ social distancing best practices, along enhanced cleaning produces taking place multiple times per day and procedures to identify potential exposures.

Thermal imaging scanners are used to instantly alert the screener to anyone who has a temperature reading of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher – anyone at that threshold or above is not permitted to enter. Campbell is rolling-out the technology to all its other manufacturing plants.

“With this added capacity, we are better able to meet the ongoing consumer demand for this beloved product, especially in the key back-to-school season,”​ said Valerie Oswalt, EVP and president of Campbell Snacks.

“None of this would have been possible without the team’s extraordinary efforts to safely and effectively complete this project one month ahead of schedule, despite the challenges.”

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