How do food companies in Girona adapt to coronavirus alarm?

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The Girona company of cooked sausages Joaquim Albertí SA – better known as La Selva- exemplifies how the food industry, one of the essential, has had toadapt to the alarm state for coronavirus. From the zero minute, and with the aim of protecting its almost 400 workers, the company has modified part of the daily life of its factory in Campllong (Gironès). Among other things, work shift schedules have been redistributed. And to reduce risks, between shifts, there is an hour difference. The use of masks and gloves has also been extended to all sections, the temperature is taken to the template when they begin the day and the disinfection of machinery and common spaces has been intensified.

Tuesday, April 14th. Returning to work from non-essential activities undermines the severe confinement that had been imposed before Easter. And at workplaces, it is mandatory to ensure safety measures among staff to prevent coronavirus infection.

Businesses have had to adjust to alarm status. And the changes, both in factories and offices, are focused on protecting templates against covid-19. Some companies have it easier, either because they are few or because they are telecommuting. But there are sectors, such as industry, that have had to make more efforts to reformulate quadrants and adapt production to the new coronavirus-derived situation.

Based in Campllong, sausage maker La Selva has been stepping up prevention measures for more than four weeks now. The company, which produces cooked ham – also turkey and traditional charcuterie – has a workforce of nearly 400.

With alarm status, the company goes redistribute work schedules. La Selva takes three shifts: morning, afternoon and night. The measure was applied in the factory shifts (morning and afternoon) and office shifts, which were divided into two equal morning and afternoon groups. Now the first go to work at half past six in the morning and go out at two in the afternoon. And the seconds, they are from 2pm to 3pm.

“The purpose of this measure is to protect workers from possible contagion, so that there is one hour between turns, without which they can cross,” say the company. Restructuring schedules is part of the prevention of coronavirus, but the package of measures implemented by La Selva includes many more.

Thermometers and disinfection

Before the start of the day the temperature is taken for all staff, masks and gloves are present in all sections of the plant or the use of disinfectant for hand cleaning has been increased. In addition, on each of the different lines, workers maintain a distance of at least one and a half meters between them. “And in those exceptional cases where this cannot be guaranteed, full personal protective equipment (PPE) personnel have been equipped to preserve them,” states the company.

In parallel, the management of Joaquim Albertí SA has also strengthened the cleaning team and intensified disinfections, both in the machinery area and in the common spaces (such as the dining room, changing rooms or bathrooms). Lastly, part of the office staff works electronically (such as purchasing, marketing and sales staff) and only goes to the factory once a week. In addition, meetings are held virtually through applications.

“We want to highlight the great collaborative spirit of all the workers, who have adapted to the new criteria and have allowed us to continue to maintain production,” emphasize La Selva. Especially when it comes to new working hours. A quadrant, as the company points out, has been adopted to prevent possible contagions of covid-19 and at the same time “be more efficient in producing and dealing with our customers’ orders”.

More demands from supermarkets

Currently, Joaquim Albertí SA sells more than half of its production to medium and large stores. Among other things, sweet ham, turkey or sausages such as whips, sausages, bellies, cured loin … Then he devotes his efforts to the traditional channel (food stores) and, lastly, to exports that have Europe as main destination.

The company says that following the coronavirus alarm, they have seen increased demands from large food chains, “which have sought to ensure supply for all their customers.” In contrast, retail orders have dropped (because consumers prefer to go to the grocery store).

Since La Selva does not work too much with the hotel and restaurant industry (bars and restaurants), its closure due to covid-19 has not altered production at the Campllong factory. Finally, the specific company which, in terms of exports, has not noticed any “relevant change”. “Fortunately, we have been able to keep the same forecasts that we had so far, and they have been fulfilled,” say from Joaquim Albertí SA.

The meat, guaranteed

However, the alarm status for coronavirus has, however, affected them part of the supplier chain. In particular, they have suffered delays with orders for plastic packaging, because companies have been forced to reduce templates due to the alarm and focus only on production intended for the food sector. “However, they have continued to serve material,” they say from La Selva.

And as for the raw material for making the sausages, the meat, here the company states that “there was no such thing as a problem.” “At all times we have been guaranteed the supply, and this reassures the sector a lot,” emphasize Joaquim Albertí SA.

The La Selva production plant – which includes a factory and offices – occupies 32,000 square meters of a 39,000 plot at the entrance to Campllong. The company has eleven lines of white room, 3,500 square meters of dryers and has a stock of 1,600 refrigerated pallets. It has the IFS, BRC, CCPAE and ISO-14001 environmental certifications.

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