As the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world, businesses – including those in the animal feed industry – may be affected in various ways, such as worker shortages, supply chain disruptions and production shutdowns.
There are ways to prepare and cope with this difficult situation, and some companies in the industry have shared their experiences and concerns.
“The world’s population is facing a remarkably challenging and rapidly changing situation, said Nutreco CEO Rob Koremans in an email to Feed Strategy. “At Nutreco, we are working to ensure that feed production continues and there is minimum disruption to the global food supply chain.”
Nutreco, headquartered in the Netherlands, has about 100 production facilities in more than 30 countries, and eight research centers.
Koremans said the company has crisis teams set up globally and locally to monitor the situation.
“Nutreco has set up global and local crises teams to ensure that global safety recommendations and standards are met in each location,” he said. “At the same time, local crises teams are monitoring and implementing local government guidelines.”
He added that Nutreco has not seen any business disruption thus far.
“Currently, we are not forecasting any major disruptions to business continuity in the near future,” he said. “However, it is difficult to say at this point how this situation will evolve and affect our business and the industry in the long term. At Nutreco, we will continue to remain cautious and communicate regularly to our stakeholders; we will be constantly monitoring the situation and will update protocols in accordance.”
Early monitoring, contingency plans
U.S.-based Alltech does business in more than 120 countries, including China. CEO Mark Lyons told Feed Strategy that the company has been monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak since it first emerged in China late last year.
“In spite of the many challenges, our team in China has continued serving our customers, and we have been able to maintain production and continuity of supply due to the strict biosecurity controls that we had already established prior to COVID-19,” he said. “As COVID-19 expanded its reach, we responded by establishing a dedicated COVID-19 task force representing all regions of the world. Together, with a team of senior management, we review the latest information, including the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on a daily basis to adapt our approach to this dynamic and evolving situation.”
Lyons said the company has taken specific actions to prioritize employee safety and assure business continuity, including limiting employee travel, screening and limiting facility visitors, enhanced cleaning and having in place plans to shift production if necessary and contingencies to ensure supply chains go uninterrupted.
“Our global infrastructure enables us to shift production if necessary,” he said. “We are working closely with all of our manufacturing teams to ensure operational continuity and service to our customers. We have implemented plans for all critical business units to work remotely, if required. As part of this, we continue to stress-test our systems and implement safeguards on the security of all data and technology.”