From Vivek Verma, CEO of Olam Coffee
“As individuals and businesses engaged in coffee, we have to take responsibility for the resilience of the coffee supply chains during these tough times, not only ensuring that harvests continue as smoothly as possible, but also ensuring that harvesting is done in the safest possible way.
This is especially true as the epicenter of the epidemic moves from the developed world to the lesser developed coffee growing countries, where medical facilities are often below par. Brazil is fast becoming the new epicenter of the epidemic in the world. In Peru, the second worst hit country in South America, coffee harvesting and movement is becoming increasingly difficult.
Olam Coffee has already committed significant effort and resources … and we are now further increasing our contribution to provide training, protection and sanitizing kits as well as food in the worst hit countries. However, there are millions of farmers, and with coffee prices having been at such low levels for several years now, many of the farming communities are already on their knees. Our coffee farmers need us to step up right now.
With our reach in coffee origins, with our networks and our sustainability teams we can reach many of the most remote farmers. I hope that we can together make a real difference in these most trying times for coffee farmers. Thank you.”
You can view Vivek’s entire message and learn more HERE
More About Olam's Response to COVID-19
Protecting the health of our people
Our 87,000 strong global team is working round the clock to navigate this crisis and to maintain the safe supply of the right quality products to our customers. In particular those across our farming operations, up-country buying stations and our manufacturing facilities are the ones on the front line every day. I am always extremely grateful for their commitment, but especially during this challenging period.
We remain vigilant in our efforts to safeguard our workforce and we continue to increase measures across all our work sites in accordance with the guidelines provided by global agencies, as well as advisories from national health authorities. We have put in place steps across all our locations to safeguard our employees’ health and well being and mitigate impacts on our operations and our supply chains:
• Implementing additional hygiene measures and screening for drivers, and other business critical visitors, before entering the site
• Restricting access from non-business critical visitors to our facilities
• Introducing staggered shift rotations, social distancing practices, and home-based working where appropriate, at our facilities, estates, farms and offices
• Any employee who is showing symptoms or has been in direct contact with someone showing symptoms is being asked not to come to our work sites
• Prohibiting all international travel and limiting all non-essential domestic travel
• Paying medical bills and setting up support helplines
Supporting our farmers and communities
Olam’s global teams are on the front line in the communities where we operate. We are working with our partners and government authorities to support to global fight against COVID and have committed just under US$4 million of in-kind and financial aid to date, for:
• Sensitizing rural communities on COVID-19; supporting national public awareness campaigns, and utilizing our digital platforms to disseminate WHO advice and updates.
• Securing and distributing essential medical equipment and PPE - including ventilators, masks, gloves, and hazmat suits for national health authorities and hospitals.
• Distributing food packages to local authorities, front line workers and rural communities, including 50 tonnes of grains in Gabon, 150 bags of rice in Myanmar, 300 food hampers for the needy in South Africa, and 2 months supply of essential food items for an orphanage and children’s hospital in Senegal.
• Employees and company matched contributions to national charities, including $1.2 million to the Courage Fund in Singapore and Fundaçao Oswaldo Cruz and Medicos Sem Frontiers in Brazil.
Maintaining business continuity
Even amidst such unprecedented disruption, the demand for food remains a constant, which makes Olam, as a global food and agribusiness, better positioned than many companies in the world to navigate the crisis and most likely less affected by it. We were well prepared going into this, with business continuity plans ready and now implemented throughout our global operations.
• Demand is still strong. Our product portfolio meets the current spikes in consumer demand for essential food staples (e.g. rice and grains), home cooking using spices and herbs, healthy snacking on nuts, comfort foods like chocolate and coffee. We have yet to determine if this demand will last, or if this is a short-term effect of people stocking up on food items.
• Our manufacturing facilities are so far running smoothly in the majority of markets. In those countries with government enforced lock downs, our facilities have been granted exemptions being deemed as essential food services.
• Maintaining access to the capital to support our business is a primary focus. We are working hard to have sufficient liquidity, protect our cash flows and meet all our re-financing requirements.