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Industry NewsCRISIS LEADERSHIP: In Their Own Words - Martin Parent, Mondelēz Canada

CRISIS LEADERSHIP: In Their Own Words – Martin Parent, Mondelēz Canada


Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures; grocery retailers and food manufacturers have implemented such measures to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to safe food. Grocers have modified their in-store practices and suppliers have changed manufacturing processes and their supply chains to address unprecedented demand. “In Their Own Words”  brings the behind-the-scenes stories to Grocery Business’ readers. 

Martin Parent, president, Mondelēz Canada

Crisis Leadership Initiatives

There’s a lot we can learn from each other during times of crisis, as both sides of our industry – retailers and suppliers – have stepped-up as an “essential service” to meet our collective responsibility to provide food security for Canadians.

At Mondelēz Canada (the home of brands including Oreo, Cadbury and Ritz), providing a safe working environment for the 2,600 colleagues across our operations remains our first priority throughout the pandemic.

When COVID-19 cases in Canada began rising, our agile leadership and crisis teams were quick to formulate our plan of action – with safety at the heart.

Early in the crisis, we set up entry screening by medical professionals for our sites. We also reimagined our production processes to include physical distancing and barriers, segregated or staggered shifts whenever possible, implemented comprehensive contact tracing protocols and enhanced cleaning and sanitation.

When it came to our field sales colleagues, we provided personal protective equipment delivered direct to their homes, changed the hours they were in-store and reduced their time in the field, while working hand-in-hand with our customers to still provide much-needed in-store support.

We also quickly moved to set up our Premium Pay Program and, true to our corporate values, we donated over $1 million of financial and in-kind support to frontline healthcare workers and community partners advancing emergency relief efforts across Canada.

Impact on the supply chain

As customers, communities and governments look to our industry to keep supply chains strong and shelves stocked, our industry-leading insights have helped us keep pace with the rapidly changing consumer mindsets, behaviors and habits.

We have seen an increase in snacking through this period, with 50 per cent of consumers indicating that they are now snacking more than in the past – and that growth isn’t slowing down. Canadians are also taking comfort in the familiar by rekindling relationships with iconic brands that make them feel good. Finally, as consumers make fewer shopping trips, we’re also seeing a shift to buying larger product formats.

This increase in snacking, desire for iconic brands and fewer shopping trips means that it’s never been more important to ensure the right products are available at the right time and in the right format. Knowing that people will be snacking more for the remainder of the year, we’ve been reducing complexity in our business and portfolio, which in turn is helping our retail partners better manage their in-store availability around the products Canadians want to buy now.

As a result, we have been streamlining our portfolio offerings to focus on key items, like larger formats for the spring/summer season. By concentrating our production on key products, we’re helping keep supply chains strong and shelves (whether physical or virtual) stocked with brands people want to buy in this ‘new normal.’

Your business takeaways from this experience
For us, the most consistent lessons coming out of this experience – from safety to shelf-stocking – are to focus on simplicity and speed. These will continue to drive our decision making as we move forward, alongside our purpose and unwavering focus on safety.

We will continue working together on what we need to do differently; staying agile to drive mutual efficiencies. We are also well-positioned to lead upcoming occasions like Back to School and Halloween, which, will no doubt, look different this year.

Finally, I would say that it’s important to stay hopeful. While this global pandemic is clearly a marathon, and not a sprint, I’m very inspired by all my colleagues for keeping our supply chain strong. I have no doubt we will emerge from this even stronger.

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