Lars Holmquist, Executive Vice President of Packaging Solutions and Commercial Operations shares insights on how Tetra Pak is committed to making food available and supporting its customers to get through the COVID-19 crisis. Over the past few months, the world has experienced one of the most catastrophic health emergencies in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted not only food supply chain and markets but people’s live, livelihood and nutrition.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak we knew we had to play our part to help maintain food supplies worldwide. Our global business continuity plan was activated in order to ensure that our customers all around the world have an uninterrupted supply of products and services they need to produce food.
We have mobilised teams across our business functions, and geographies as well as externally with our suppliers and local authorities. Our extensive network of suppliers and global logistics partners are working 24/7 to ensure that our customers keep receiving shipments of raw materials, spare parts and components. In this way we have been able to overcome difficulties like spikes in demand, transport or border closures. Our goal is to protect food supplies and stand by our customers.
We recognise the need for speed and agility, for example on services we are increasingly using digital technologies such as virtual commissioning and remote installation, allowing us to be quicker in response time and keep our customers’ operations running. We have seen some positive results in Europe and Central Asia as a result. In some cases, we need to support our customers on site, when our technicians do travel, they follow WHO and all local guidelines related to travel and hygiene in those situations. The safety of our people is paramount.
Customer service under COVID-19 restrictions
Physical distancing has required us to rethink the way we interact with our customers and we have quickly transformed the way we work across many activities such as product development, product trials, ideation initiatives and workshops. We have been doing virtual visits at our Customer Innovation Centres located in different countries such as Sweden, Italy, the United States and Dubai. Our team in Lund, Sweden, did a virtual visit with a major dairy producer last month which was received well. There are more sessions like that set up. We have dedicated teams across the world that work with our customers, listen to their needs, requirements, challenges and find ways to assist them during this crisis. It’s not a one size fits all approach. Some of our customers are in high risk countries and others in low risk areas. We need to find solutions that fit them now and anticipate what they will need in the coming months. One of the challenges that our customers are faced with is the sudden change in consumer patterns and lifestyle.
Changing consumer patterns and impact on packaging.
As consumers spend more time at home, eating in not out, supply and demand patterns are changing worldwide, and we are responding to this. There has been a huge rise in stocking up of basic foodstuffs, e-commerce has boomed, while food services like restaurants and cafes have been heavily hit.
Soon we will need to look at the rise of “at home economy” activities and in-home consumption when considering family size, ambient and culinary products and – vice versa – potentially reducing portion packs and chilled products. But this will depend on our customers and market needs which we will continue to monitor and respond to.
Safe products from end-to-end until they reach customers
Now more than ever, protecting our products is key, our factories are working in close collaboration with health authorities to make sure all the necessary measures are being taken to safeguard our sites from infection. We have also assessed the risk of whether the coronavirus may affect the safety or suitability of Tetra Pak packaging materials, additional materials, packaging equipment, processing equipment and spare parts. We can confirm that irrespective of the outbreak our products remain safe for food production.
We are adapting and adopting new ways to support customers, together to continue to stand by our commitment to making food safe and available, everywhere. The crisis has accelerated a transformation in the way we work but everything we do now and in the post-COVID-19 era will still be measured, sustainable and based on evidence.