As providers of vital nutrition for dogs, cats and other pets worldwide, the pet food industry kept running as the COVID-19 outbreak in China grew into a global pandemic. Along with the crucial mission of providing food, many pet food industry suppliers had the infrastructure in place to make good on that goal.
As his company stockpiled raw materials in anticipation of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Paul Manning, president and CEO of Sensient Technologies, focused on the essential mission of their industry. (see video below)
“We’ve got to keep running,” he said. “We’ve got to provide end customers with these vital products. That mission definition was critical for employees to realize what we need to do.”
Pet food ingredient supplier infrastructure in the pandemic
Inspiring employees to a higher purpose may have motivated them, but a pet food industry supplier needs to have the infrastructure behind that mission too. As makers of consumables, ingredient suppliers and others already have sanitation and biosecurity integrated into their facilities to prevent contamination of products. However, the risk of person-to-person pathogen transmission wasn’t always foremost on facility designers’ minds.
Sensient built sophisticated sanitation infrastructure in production areas of facilities, but hadn’t necessarily paid attention to office spaces, Manning said. Cafeterias, hallways, office spaces and other areas had always been cleaned, but not always sanitized and audited. The company has also provided workers with personal protective equipment, including face masks and gloves.
In crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations need to be more top down that usual, he said. People need to know what they need to do and how to keep plants running. At the same time, with operations spread from France to China to Brazil, one size doesn’t fit all of Sensient locations. Local leaders need to be able to adjust.
Manning credited “awesome employees” for keeping Sensient running during the pandemic. What’s more, attendance has been better than normal.