In a video message delivered to Nestlé’s global workforce, the chief executive of the world’s largest food and beverage company said it is Nestlé’s ‘special responsibility’ to keep supplies flowing to consumers globally.
“The COVID-19 situation has evolved further, and we are dealing with a significant global challenge,” he observed. “We would like to remind you of the special responsibility that a company like ours has at this time. Food and beverage products are essential to peoples’ lives. In moments like these our purpose and values matter a lot to the people and communities we serve.”
Schneider recognised the ‘challenging’ personal and family situations many of the company’s workers are facing and paid particular tribute to ‘front-line employees and factory workers’. “Your commitment and your discipline are critical at this time to maintain business continuity. It is our priority to support you in this important endeavor.”
Outlining the company’s priorities to manage the coronavirus crisis, first and foremost Schneider stressed that the health of the Nestlé workforce is crucial. “The safety of all of us is paramount. We can only make positive contributions and live our purpose and values if we stay healthy and avoid spreading the virus.”
Business continuity, he continued, is ‘key’ in this period of unprecedented global disruption. Schneider warned that the situation could give rise to significant challenges within the company’s supply chain.
“We need to focus our efforts on securing supplies, manufacturing and logistics every step of the way.”
‘Get ready for the storm’: Nestlé CEO
Nestlé is taking a number of actions to prepare for increased disruption to its operations and supply chain.
A spokesperson for the company elaborated: “We have a duty to ensure that much-needed food, pet food and beverage products are available around the world. To achieve this, we are working closely with our supply chain, distribution and retail partners. We are assessing the situation on a day-to-day basis.”
Currently, ‘most’ of the company’s factories ‘remain operational’, the spokesperson told FoodNavigator. “In some countries, we have paused production on a temporary basis due to restrictions on movement introduced by governments. We are also repurposing resources in some locations to ensure we meet evolving demand.”
Extra safety precautions have been introduced at Nestlé sites. “In addition to our normal strict hygiene standards, we have put in place additional safety measures in our factories, offices and distribution centers – this includes providing personal protection equipment and the implementation of social distance measures.”
Schneider cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic could mean supplies of ingredients and materials are interrupted. He called on procurement teams to begin stockpiling essentials.
“For those areas that are not affected yet, get prepared by building inventories of critical supplies and products. Please get ready for the storm to hit because hit it will,” the chief executive warned.
The current situation has brought ‘some challenges’ for sourcing raw materials and Nestlé is working to mitigate this. However, the company spokesperson downplayed concerns over any immediate impact.
“There are some challenges brought about by the present situation for sourcing raw and packaging material – but we are working hard to manage this. Overall, we don’t see a major impact on the supply chain at this stage.”
Schneider concluded with a rallying call that emphasised Nestlé’s ‘resilience’ and commitment to continuing to serve the communities in which it operates.
“Let’s work together across all parts of the business to keep going. Let’s make this one of our finest hours.”