The Uelzena Group, with four sites in northern Germany, is not immune to the effects of the standstill. As a systemically relevant dairy, the company processes raw milk ingredients from more than 800 milk producers to make milk powder, butter, cheese and sweetened condensed milk. The operability of milk collection and processing is therefore crucial to the financial stability of the cooperative members, the milk producers and for the company itself. Measures introduced immediately to secure the availability and production capacity of all other raw materials and production areas of the group, have also ensured customer supply.
Within a very short time, the employees have helped to tighten hygiene rules and reduce any contact opportunities to the necessary minimum both internally and with third parties. Home offices, video conferences, working in small groups without shift handovers, wearing protective masks in hazardous areas and further increased disinfection measures have become part of daily routine. “To date, no employee in the corporation has tested positive for Covid-19, for which we are thankful,” says Human Resources Manager Ina Hinrichs.
The lockdown of public life in many countries is changing the global demand for food substantially. While domestic consumption has risen sharply, the consumption of food outside of the home (e.g. at restaurants, canteens) has virtually ground to a halt. For Uelzena this means lost sales in the business divisions that supply the bakery trade and the foodservice sector, whereas the industrial business with dairy ingredients continues to receive a good number of orders. The prices for milk powder and butter are coming under pressure, which means a decline in sales is expected for the second quarter of the year.