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Kraft Heinz Setting Records in Delivering Food to Marketplace
USAgNet - 04/07/2020

Mitch Arends has been working from 4:30 a.m. until midnight for weeks.

"I think it's natural for someone in manufacturing to work a lot of long hours. It's kind of in our DNA ...but over the last couple of weeks, it's kind of amped up," Arends told Food Dive.

As the senior vice president of operations and manufacturing for Kraft Heinz, Arends always has a big job. In his position, he oversees the company's 39 manufacturing facilities nationwide, as well as the 19,000 employees who work in them. But as Kraft Heinz works around the clock to make the products that Americans are buying to sustain themselves while staying at home because of the threat of coronavirus, the job has taken on a new dimension.

All of the company's U.S. factories are currently operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to produce the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Heinz Ketchup, Maxwell House coffee and Oscar Mayer hot dogs that are filling millions of pantries and freezers. Arends said that the company sometimes operates on this kind of schedule to meet seasonal demands, but it's never been quite like this. And the demand has been pretty consistent across Kraft Heinz's portfolio.

In a recent interview, Kraft Heinz offiials said they speak daily with Amazon.com and Walmart Inc., hoping to speed up deliveries as customers worldwide stay home and shop online to protect themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic

"Amazon and Walmart and the others have faced a huge increase in demand. I think the bottle-neck is being able to deliver to people's homes, not production," Kraft Heinz Chief Executive Miguel Patricio told Reuters.

"Penetration has increased for them (Amazon), more people are subscribing - it's big demand and you have to adapt your logistics system to attend this demand." Patricio said Kraft Heinz was producing "a lot" more for Amazon, but declined to provide specific numbers.

"They are trying to simplify their portfolio of products and focus on things that are more vital at this moment."

On Monday, Patricio updated stockholders on its response to the pandemix and reschedulings an upcoming Investory Day and business impact date ahead of its first quarter earning call later this month.

"Right now, our mission as a company has never been clearer: we have a huge responsibility to keep feeding the world," said Patricio. "Each leader on our team is focused on making the Company and our global business as flexible and agile as possible to meet demand forecasts that are changing daily -- and sometimes, hour by hour. We are inspired by our employees on the front lines -- in our manufacturing plants and distribution centers, which all remain operational, and our in-store sales teams -- who are working tirelessly each day to meet the demand and make sure consumers have the food and nourishment they need during these uncertain times."

Kraft Heinz is increasing overall manufacturing and shipping efficiency by cutting production of some items, for instance reducing less popular flavors of a given product. This has freed up enough people for Kraft Heinz to create a third shift in many factories, up from two, Patricio said.

Patricio said sales of Mac & Cheese, Oscar Mayer cold cuts and Planters nuts have increased, and that people are also buying more Heinz vinegar to use as an alternative to cleaning products.

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