As businesses around the world go dark due to the coronavirus outbreak, Santa Rosa food manufacturer Amy’s Kitchen is redoubling efforts to keep grocery stores stocked and production humming.
With $600 million in sales worldwide, Amy’s Kitchen is among thousands of large food manufacturers considered “essential” for ongoing distribution of food to grocers around the country.
“We’re doing everything we can to ramp up production. The U.S. government has stressed the importance of food companies to continue to produce food,” said Jessica Adkins, Senior Director of Company Affairs for the organic and non-GMO food specialty company founded in Sonoma County.
Heading their production list: Soup. Though the company also makes frozen entrees and other specialty foods, their canned soups offer both social distancing for employees and are in high demand by consumers.
“The way we make it naturally allows for distancing for employees, and we’re seeing soup aisles quickly depleted right now. We are no longer in a situation of business as usual and are mobilizing our efforts as much as we can to ensure that people can continue to put food on their tables,” Adkins said.
She added that changes in production could make other Amy’s food products temporarily unavailable, but that they are fast-tracking as many products as possible.
“As stores restock, there is new food being made,” she said, adding that no supply lines of raw materials they typically use have been interrupted. “The situation continues to evolve, but we feel we are in a really good place.”
In recent weeks, Americans have seen grocery shelves empty with alarming speed due to hoarding and fears that food stocks may run low. Government officials have created special allowances for businesses whose function is crucial to ongoing food supplies to continue to operate.
This has caused a shortage of workers, and Adkins said the company is actively hiring. The company currently has 2,600 employees worldwide and three kitchens in Santa Rosa, Oregon and Idaho.
Like most businesses around the country, Amy’s had only days to prepare staff and production facilities to operate safely during the outbreak. Though they are held to rigid national standards for food production, the coronavirus requires even stricter measures. That meant allowing staff at high-risk for infection or uncomfortable in a work environment to stay home and providing adequate safety measures for those who remained.
Adkins said they have added heated tents outside to allow for distancing, are staggering breaks and lunches and not allowing any external visitors into the buildings. They’ve also asked non-essential employees to work at home.
Though much of the soup and meal production happen outside of Sonoma County, the Amy’s Kitchen facility in Santa Rosa is a command center and houses their research and development operations, new product development and supports their drive through restaurant in Rohnert Park. Adkins said safety procedures have also been rolled out here.
Amy’s Drive Thru has continued operation for pickup only.
Amy’s Kitchen is one of several national manufacturers in Sonoma County, including Traditional Medicinals, Guayaki, Miyoko’s Kitchen and others.
For more details about hiring, go to amys.com or call 707-568-4698.