Freshpet, a leader in fresh, real food for pets, announced strategic actions it has taken to protect team members and meet demand during the current coronavirus crisis.
The company is making notable investments designed to protect its team members so that they can address the surge in demand that exceeded its production capacity during the first quarter and rebuild trade inventories in the second quarter when consumers begin to draw down their pantry stock. These efforts include taking the temperature of every team member before entering the kitchens, installing increased space for social distancing, instituting staggered shifts, enhancing daily sanitation efforts and weekly deep cleaning of all common areas and limiting access and administering a health check on all visitors.
Additionally, the company suspended its absenteeism policy – and brought in incremental staffing to meet demand — so that any team member who does not feel well does not feel compelled to show up for work. As a result, the Kitchens have continued to produce Freshpet – with limited interruptions — at very high volumes and with exceptional quality. To thank its team members for their efforts during this challenging time, the company is paying all Kitchens’ team members a $500 post-tax bonus and they are receiving $50 gift cards bi-weekly to support locally owned restaurants.
Billy Cyr, Freshpet’s CEO commented, “It is both a privilege and responsibility for Freshpet’s Kitchens to be designated a “life-sustaining business” by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. We have the privilege of keeping our business operating – and constructing additional capacity — while so many others are closed. That privilege comes with the responsibility to protect the safety of our team, their families and community while also serving the public need for the highest quality pet food for the more than 3 million pet parents who depend on us to feed their pets. On behalf of our Board of Directors and leadership team, I would like to extend my appreciation to our team members who are working so diligently to serve those pet parents while protecting our families.”
Cyr added, “We also greatly appreciate the efforts of our retail partners who are on the front lines of this crisis and working to provide the necessary food and other household supplies under such difficult circumstances. One of the benefits of the pet food business is that it has very consistent consumption patterns – which are continuing, but the current situation has distorted the buying behavior for that consumption. While it is not clear how long this crisis will last, the impact it will have on consumer shopping behavior going forward, or how long it will take retailers to return to their traditional activities, we are committed to helping our retail partners meet the needs of those whom they serve every day. All of our incremental health and safety efforts are designed to make us a reliable partner in that pursuit.”
Cyr continued, “As we outlined at our Investor Day in February, our recent growth had been very robust such that we were playing catch up to fulfill demand. With the onset of the COVID-19 global health crisis, our demand continued to accelerate as pet parents prioritized shopping for their pets’ needs. While we expect a trough in retail sales behind the surge, we remain diligent in ensuring that our manufacturing operations are safe through additional investments when necessary and believe all of our efforts demonstrate the strength of our organization, the business we have built and the merits of our mission and values that are focused on Pets. People. Planet.”
Freshpet expects to report first quarter 2020 financial results in early May.