Hershey confirms $1million move producing face masks to tackle coronavirus

The US-based Hershey Company has confirmed plans to invest $1 million to acquire, install and staff a new manufacturing line dedicated to the production of face masks in response to tackling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As the company explained, the new line, which will be capable of producing up to 45,000 masks per day, will become operational near the end of May, and comes just as America became the nation with the most cases of the virus, with a total nearing one million recorded cases so far.

The company’s latest move follows in the wake of its quarterly results, which revealed net sales of just over $2 billion for the period, representing a year-on-year increase of 1.0%. However, the  business made the unusual move of withdrawing its financial outlook in the wake of the unexpected global emergence of coronavirus, which is anticipated to result in recession for markets around the world.

Speaking on the present crisis Michele Buck, President and CEO, said: ““Supporting our communities in difficult times is part of our legacy, and an important value that our current employees share. From the building projects that created local jobs during the Great Depression, to producing military rations during World War II, we take great pride in making a difference where we can.”

Leveraging its internal engineering capabilities, and its relationships with equipment manufacturer JR Automation and General Motors, who is making similar masks, the company is moving quickly to address the nationwide shortage of protective equipment.

“Disposable masks will be an integral piece of protecting the health and safety of our employees, their families and our community as we move forward over the weeks and months ahead,” said Jason Reiman, Chief Supply Chain Officer. “Changing how we work, and adding this capability is a testament to the adaptability of our team, and our desire to make a difference.”

Converting operations to address a critical need is the latest step in the company’s ongoing efforts to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Hershey has donated millions in cash and product to benefit community groups and a variety of healthcare organisations, while simultaneously supporting employee safety and wellbeing.

Community outreach

As the company noted, to support basic needs in communities where it operates, the company has made cash donations to a variety of partners including United Way Worldwide, Feeding America and the Centre for Disaster Philanthropy, as well as numerous food banks across the U.S. Globally, Hershey has joined other major chocolate companies who have collectively donated hundreds of millions to support international relief agencies in delivering COVID-19 education and protection in cocoa growing communities.

The company has also expanded its donation programmes to support hospitals and healthcare institutions across the U.S. It’s delivered tens of thousands of pounds of treats to more than 50 facilities in over a dozen states to lift the spirts of front-line health workers, and provide encouragement through small “moments of goodness” throughout their days.

Closer to home, the business is working closely with the professionals from the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Centre by making donations of N95 masks and surgical gloves, along with hand sanitising stations. Hershey is also donating warehouse space and supply chain expertise to operate a 22,000-square foot distribution centre on the Hershey Company campus to help the flow of supplies from Penn State Health to its network of providers.

In addition to its local healthcare efforts, Hershey continues to work closely with Milton Hershey School, providing product donations, rallying employees to provide messages of support to students, and continuing to provide virtual guest speakers for the school’s award-winning Hershey Honors Business programme.

Ensuring the health and security of Hershey employees is a primary focus of the company’s COVID response. From the outset of the current crisis, the company has worked to offer various options to enable employees to continue working with enhanced safety and economic security. Increased safety and protective measures, modified and flexible work schedules, work-from-home options, pay incentives and enhanced assistance programs have been implemented to help employees navigate this challenging time.

Commenting on its financial results, Michele Buck added: “We had a solid start to the year with our business performing as expected prior to the impact of COVID-19,” said , The Hershey Company President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our best wishes go out to those being affected by this pandemic, and our heartfelt thanks to those working tirelessly to help us persevere through it. At Hershey, we have an opportunity to help ensure a steady food supply and create some economic stability for our employees and the farmers, suppliers and partners that rely on us. We take great pride and passion in our ability to make moments of goodness during this time when physical connection is limited.

“The team has demonstrated relentless energy and dedication to plan and adapt while continuing to operate safely. The situation continues to evolve rapidly, and it is difficult to predict the future with much certainty. But we have more than 125 years of experience managing through challenging, fast-moving and unprecedented moments in time. We continue to focus on making the best long-term decisions for all our key stakeholders and believe this resilience will make us stronger in the days and years ahead.”



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