Kraft Heinz cuts output at three plants, adds mac and cheese shifts

Sao Paulo | Reuters — Kraft Heinz said Friday it has moved to significantly reduce production at three plants providing restaurant supplies amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, but its CEO noted the company has added shifts at others to meet demand for packaged foods such as macaroni and cheese.

Speaking in a video presentation hosted by Brazilian retail brokerage XP Inc., Miguel Patricio said the affected factories, two in the U.S. and one in the U.K., are in the food service segment and saw demand drop due to the pandemic, mainly in Europe.

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In a statement sent after the video, in which Patricio said the plants had been halted, Kraft said, “These facilities have significantly reduced production.”

Patricio, who took over as Kraft Heinz’s CEO last year, said its packaged food units are working in three shifts to meet high demand, especially for macaroni and cheese in the U.S. and canned beans and soups in the United Kingdom.

“We feel that people are seeking more comfort food at this moment, as they seek some other ways to feel pleasure,” Patricio said.

He said operations in China are returning to normal now, but he feels that consumers’ behaviour has changed, as individuals are using more home deliveries.

Patricio said he considers Kraft Heinz to be a “safe haven” but is worried about the effect of credit constraints on its suppliers, adding that he is looking at ways to address the issue.

The company’s shares were up 2.7 per cent on Friday even as the S+P500 slumped 1.5 per cent.

— Carolina Mandl reports on Brazil’s finance sector for Reuters from Sao Paulo.

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