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Anpario CEO on keeping business running during pandemic

Feed Strategy recently spoke with Anpario CEO Richard Edwards about how the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting the company.

Epidemic as Outbreak of Infectious Disease as Art
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Head of feed additive company says it is seeing minimal disruption and highly effective internal communication

U.K.-based Anpario PLC is an international producer and distributor of high-performance natural animal feed additive technologies.

Feed Strategy recently spoke with CEO Richard Edwards about how the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting the company and its operations.


Feed Strategy: Are you seeing tightening supply or rising costs of any of your ingredients as a result of COVID-19? Any labor shortages?

Richard Edwards: No, we have good reliable suppliers whom we have built very strong and loyal relationships with. These relationships are serving us well in these unsettled times. We are also financially very strong with net cash on the balance sheet, which gives our suppliers the confidence to supply us. In addition, Anpario is part of the food supply chain which has been classed as a key industry across Europe and elsewhere. Governments are determined to keep open transport routes through their countries for key industries. There is some minor disruption, but we are finding solutions quickly to overcome these bumps in the road.

In terms of labor shortages, Anpario has implemented its business continuity plan whereby all staff not working in production and export and logistics, have been sent home to work. We have a split production shift system and separated our export and logistics team to ensure COVID-19 does not spread within these teams. So far, no one in the company has tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, we have a key back-up team for production made up of personnel from other departments such as finance, marketing, technical and regulatory who are ready, willing and able to work in the production plant. I am very proud and humbled that a few of our office-based staff are now on the production lines helping to meet the huge increase in demand driven by our distributors and customers who rightly want to ensure continuity of supply.

Furthermore, the investment Anpario has made in automation in recent years is serving us well in being able to meet this increase in demand for our products.


FS: Do you have any production facilities in hard-hit areas such as China or Italy? If so, how has this affected your business or in what ways are you preparing for disruptions?

RE: No, our production facility is located in the U.K. and we have warehouses around the world which have sufficient stock to meet the increase in demand. In order to prepare for any potential disruption, we are increasing our stock levels in our subsidiaries and at our distributors’ warehouses around the world.


FS: What are the biggest challenges your company is facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

RE: At the moment, COVID-19 is creating a high-pressured environment where our staff have to find quick solutions to solve, for example, logistics issues, such as container collections being canceled by shipping companies. However, Anpario has a very experienced export and logistics team who have been shipping products around the world through war zones, strikes, bad weather situations, to name a few, for decades and so they are adept at getting product to our customers on time and in full.


FS: What improvements or opportunities has the pandemic created for the company that you wouldn’t otherwise have experienced?

RE: There are two distinct improvements or opportunities which I would say this situation has created for Anpario. Firstly, I have been surprised how effective, and in some cases more effective, we are through being forced to work remotely and by communicating through digital means to our colleagues in all four corners of the world. This improved communication has been significantly facilitated by using technology such as Microsoft Teams. I believe it has made us use the technology to its potential, bringing a stronger sense of teamwork and passion for our business across thousands of miles. Maybe the millennial generation already understood this but to Generation Xers, like me, I believe we have come of age in embracing communication technology.

The second improvement is teamwork and culture. I have always been conscious that, in all organizations, there is an element of silo mentality between departments, and Anpario is no exception. Over the years, we have tried to break these silos down but with limited success. Anpario is currently at the top of its game smashing all previous production targets and one thing that can’t be questioned is this wouldn’t be possible without the whole team pulling together like we are right now. I am seeing several departments merging into one team determined to succeed; everyone is sharing in a common goal of keeping up supply to our customers.

We often talk about the Anpario Way Of Working (AWOW), the whole company, whether they are in Worksop, Sao Paulo, Bangkok, South Carolina, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Dubai, Sydney, Manila, Jakarta, Santiago, etc., etc., are all doing it right now! It is not a documented procedure to read and follow, it’s about attitude, commitment and dedication – all the things we are witnessing now in abundance in our company. It’s our culture and no amount of consultancy advice would have been as effective as this situation in bringing our staff closer together.


FS: Given the fast-changing developments, what is the outlook for the global animal feed industry for the rest of 2020, from your perspective?

RE: The world population still needs to eat and, I think, once the world has overcome this challenge and the population can come out and start to socialize again, this will be a good cause for celebration and some modest indulgence. So, I am positive for the future of the global animal feed industry for the rest of 2020 and beyond.


FS: What is the best advice you can give to other business leaders in the industry to cope with the difficult situation we’re in now?

RE: I’ve managed businesses through difficult times before, although the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. However, crises such as this test a leader’s ability to the limit and, without doubt, you learn more about your business’ preparedness to cope with significant disruption. As a leader, you need to keep positive, make decisions quickly and take action sooner rather than later to ensure the continued viability of the business and making sure everyone is focused on doing whatever it takes to get the business and its employees safely through to the other side. Always focus on getting to those calmer waters and regularly talk to your key managers as well as communicating directly to all staff about how the company will navigate these turbulent times.

How is COVID-19 affecting your feed business? Share your experience.

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