KANSAS CITY — Workers at facilities run by baking ingredient suppliers generally have avoided COVID-19 outbreaks. Automation and social distancing are two reasons why.
Cain Food Industries, Inc., Dallas, has shared some of its new cautionary measures on keeping employees safe to its bakery customers, and customers have shared their practices with Cain as well, said Matt Feder, senior vice president of sales.
“It is a coordinated effort to keep a vital food source on the grocery shelves,” he said. “A few simple things we have done at Cain are dedicating employees to specific lines and staggering lunch and breaks to keep interactions amongst people to a minimum. We also have a key person from each department working from home.”
Essential workers keep producing supplies at BreadPartners, Inc. facilities, said Michelle Lacovara-Birkey, director of sales for the company based in Cinnaminson, NJ.
“We take every precaution,” she said. “The safety and health of our partners and our customers and our employees and our communities are paramount. So that’s first and foremost, but still samples are going out. People are calling us, and they are needing help.”
Automation keeps the number of required workers lower at yeast plants run by AB Mauri North America, a St. Louis-based business of AB Mauri, said John Heilman, vice president of yeast manufacturing for AB Mauri North America and based at a yeast plant in Memphis, Tenn.
“In most instances the operators are running the lines by themselves,” he said.
BakeMark early on began following best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said David Lopez, director of marketing and based in Los Angeles.
“We’re thankful that none of our facilities have closed,” he said. “Our salesforce is still very much engaged with our customers.”
He added, “We are not at this point looking to scale back or slow things down. We know this is the time when the industry needs us the most, our customers need us the most. So we made every effort to stay safe, but at the same time to make sure that we continue to be that partner to our customers.”