Food Safety Strategies recently was able to talk to a variety of companies in the business of HPP (high-pressure processing), on how COVID-19 has been affecting business.
Liz Parker: What are the protocols has Texas Food Solutions put in place to meet increased production demands while keeping employees safe at the same time?
Jasmine Sutherland, president, Texas Food Solutions, an HPP Toller company:
With COVID 19, we are seeing an increased demand for HPP products because HPP offers a clean label and a longer shelf life. To keep our workers safe while meeting increased demand, we first designated a team leader who is coordinating all efforts. When he brings a new measure to the table, we all work as a team to implement it. This has included completely stopping travel and outside visitors a few weeks prior to the stay at home order, temperature checking all employees, moving shift start times to have less people in the building during crossover, increasing sanitation in all common areas, dividing up breaks to allow for social distancing, retraining employees on proper glove, sanitation, and personal hygiene procedures, and reassuring employees that compensation measures were passed and if they or a family member were sick, they needed to stay at home until cleared.
Our job is to make sure our employees are equipped with the knowledge needed to keep them and their families healthy. To do that, we used third party translation services to make sure all communication was translated into every primary language that our employees speak.
LP: Have Soup Explorers sales increases due to COVID-19? If so, what sales trends do you see now and for the future?
Linda Yeh-Ostrinsky, co-founder, Soup Explorers, makers of internationally flavored HPP’d soup kits:
Yes, we have been fortunate to see an uptick in sales. We attribute this growth to consumers’ desire for comforting, nutritious soups during these uncertain times and our launch of local deliveries to bring our soup kits to our consumers at home. People are juggling more than ever to balance their work, family and personal commitments so providing a convenient, nutritious and stockable option is more important than ever. We see this trend continuing as well as a resurgence in international flavors as international travel will likely remain limited in the near future.
LP: What are the top three drivers for the recent HPP sales spike for HPP tollers?
Kevin Kennedy, North American Sales Manager, JBTAvure, leading global maker of HPP machines:
We are seeing three main drivers for increased HPP sales for HPP tollers:
1. Food Safety/Clean label: In these times, consumers have a heightened awareness and need for food safety and clean label products.
2. Retail vs. Food Service: Much higher demand for Retail products with the shuttering/slowdown of restaurants due to the virus.
3. Convenience: With restaurants and grocery store deli counters closing due to COVID 19, consumers are buying products like sliced deli meat that are pre-packaged and provide safe handling and convenience.
LP: Have JustMade Juice's sales increases due to COVID-19? If so, what sales trends do you see now and for the future?
Walter Nimock, co-founder, JustMade Juice:
Comparing January and February (pre-COVID) with May through June 15 (post-COVID), Just Made has seen an overall sales increase of 35 percent. Retail sales are up 55 percent, while food service sales are down -66 percent. For the remainder of 2020, we expect sales to continue to grow and are anticipating overall year over year growth of roughly 85 percent. The projection assumes food service sales will climb back to 2019 levels and retail sales continue strong growth through the end of 2020.
We do have a couple very large customers in the pipeline that could dramatically increase our growth scenario by up to 2x, but 85 percent growth is the baseline estimate right now. All of our SKUs are performing well, but items with immunity-strengthening turmeric seem to be in particularly high demand.