KANSAS CITY — Solid preparation plans by milling and baking companies in the Carolinas helped prevent significant disruptions in service before and after Hurricane Florence hit the region this past weekend.
The impact of the storm, which has killed more than 30 people and caused billions in damages to homes and businesses, is still being felt, as severe flooding in the region remains a major concern.
Two of the nation’s largest baking companies, Flowers Foods, Inc., Thomasville, Ga., and Bimbo Bakeries USA, Horsham, Pa., were able to avoid significant damage from the storm.
In advance of Hurricane Florence, Flowers Foods said it worked around the clock to meet the needs of customers and consumers, baking products as long as it was safe for employees to do so.
On Sept. 18 the company said it saw “minimal impact” to its three bakeries in Goldsboro, Jamestown, and Newton, N.C.
“We returned to a full assortment of products to most markets today, except in coastal areas, and our sales team is working closely with customers to meet their specific needs,” Flowers said. “No plants sustained damage, and only our Goldsboro, N.C., bakery lost power during the storm.”
Meanwhile, B.B.U. said it has been “fortunate,” with no associates or assets affected by the storm.
“B.B.U. is delivering to those areas that are able to receive deliveries and intends to be back to full service by (Sept. 20),” the company said on Sept. 18.
Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, Mass., operates a facility in Mooresville, N.C., that mills organic wheat flour.
“The Bay State Milling leadership and crisis team have been working since early last week to prepare and navigate the challenges associated with Hurricane Florence,” said Peter Levangie, president and chief executive officer of Bay State Milling. “We are happy to report that all of our employees are okay, though a few have lost power at home.
“We remain cautiously optimistic about customers and other stakeholders. Following precautionary measures, the Mooresville mill was able to maintain close to planned run time, so we are well prepared to keep customers operating this week. Sean Costello, the Mooresville plant manager, reports the mill will be getting back to more customary operations today (Monday, Sept. 17) as the team works through customer flour demands.”
Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., operates a facility in North Charleston, S.C.
“The safety of our employees is our top priority,” said Becca Hary, director of corporate communications. “In advance of Hurricane Florence, our team worked together to immediately activate our safety and emergency procedures, which included securing and evacuating the plant. Since our plant was undergoing a previously scheduled construction project, we had already made alternate arrangements to handle our customers’ orders.”
Sugaright, a wholly owned subsidiary of CSC Sugar, which is involved in sugar trading, distribution and refining, expected the most severe impact of the hurricane to miss the company’s network of refineries.
“All Sugaright refineries will work together to cover any additional demand that may occur due to the disruption in the supply chain,” the company said on Sept. 12. “We have inventory in the Shenandoah Valley that can be accessed to supply the impacted areas as needed.”
Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., is among the companies stepping up in support of those affected by the storms. The company on Sept. 18 announced it is donating five semi-trailers of cereal, bars and crackers to help people in the Carolinas and Appalachia region. The donations equate to more than 2.1 million servings of cereal, bars and crackers.
“Kellogg and our partners want to do all we can to help families impacted by Florence,” said Kris Charles, senior vice-president of global corporate affairs. “This storm has ravaged some areas of the South, flooding cities and displacing many families. We hope to provide comfort and important nourishment by lending our support at this time when people need it most.”
Supporting disaster relief efforts is part of Kellogg’s global Breakfasts for Better Days initiative addressing food security. In 2017, the company donated 570 million servings of food to people in need around the world.
PepsiCo, Inc., which has more than 16,000 employees throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, said it will donate $1 million in grants to relief agencies and 350,000 meals to communities affected by Hurricane Florence through its PepsiCo Foundation.
“Our focus is on ensuring that relief agencies have the resources they need to help those impacted by Hurricane Florence,” said Jon Banner, president of the PepsiCo Foundation and executive vice-president of communications at PepsiCo.