As HAVI continues to cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have never been more conscious of our position as a global company. We serve customers in more than 100 countries, have a physical presence in more than 45 countries and employ approximately 10,000 people worldwide. There continues to be significant variation in the status of – and response to – the pandemic in our different markets. Our teams around the world have responded with exemplary professionalism to this complicated landscape, and we could not be prouder of their resilience and commitment in such difficult and volatile circumstances. They continue to Deliver the Promise day in day out, doing amazing things with patience and kindness.
Our top priority remains the safety and wellbeing of everyone associated with our company -- our people and the customers and suppliers with whom our teams interact every day. With the interests of all these people in mind, we remain committed to complying with directives and guidance from the World Health Organization, local governments and health authorities.
It’s clear that the pandemic and its aftermath will continue to test individuals and businesses in the months and years ahead. HAVI has always led its business with a long-term focus grounded in our financial strength and stability and in having strong business contingency planning in place in our operations. These strengths have served us well to date, ensuring we remain beside our customers planning and preparing, assuring supply and safe handling of products, and adapting inventories and deliveries to fluctuating demand.
HAVI is also committed to looking ahead to what the “next normal” will bring, and how we can help customers be better positioned and prepared for new challenges to come. Our aim is to be a leading driver of innovation for the foodservice value chain – partnering with others to reshape the future and enable our customers to thrive in it.
For now, we would like to thank our committed employees for their tireless work, our loyal supplier network for partnering with us to ensure supply and adjust to changes in demand, and our customers for trusting us to protect their businesses and help them think about the future.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have proactively encouraged our employees who can work from home to do so. Thanks to our cloud-first IT strategy, we are well-positioned to ensure ongoing system performance and have equipped employees with the software, hardware and training they need to work from home. In our distribution centers, we have implemented safety measures and protocols to safeguard employee health– from temperature checks and increased cleaning to handwashing and social distancing. As more markets have started to open up, we have implemented protocols in our office locations and offered access to employees who need an alternative option to working from home.
We have also asked all employees to refrain from business travel to any destination, unless it is deemed business-critical and receives leadership approval. We continue to drive ongoing collaboration and engagement via virtual meetings and tools.
Business continuity for our foodservice customers is powered through resiliency. At HAVI, this means being flexible, nimble and decisive, in good times and in times of uncertainty while anticipating what’s next. We have implemented and maintained HAVI’s global contingency measures to plan, monitor, and report through dedicated taskforce teams at the country and enterprise level.
Our contingency plans remain in place for assured supply in all markets, working closely with customer and supplier networks, and we continue to look ahead to help our customers adapt and adjust for what the next normal will bring. We are looking proactively at the packaging and other operating supplies that will be needed in a COVID-19 world moving forward. And, most importantly, we continue to deliver what restaurants need when they need it, no matter what.
Our supplier partners have really stepped up to respond to the daily challenges of this ever-changing new reality. In advance of the escalation of the COVID-19 crisis, we worked with suppliers to create capacity, build stocks of finished products and prioritize critical items, and this process continues as new guidance and restrictions are issued in different markets. We are in constant dialogue with our supplier partners as we focus on business continuity and contingency planning for our customers across dozens of markets.
Our supplier network has shown incredible resilience in responding to the changing environment and customer needs. Looking ahead, we are anticipating the needs of markets as they enter the recovery phase of the crisis.
While restaurants around the world saw a drastic dip in dine-in sales in the early days of COVID-19, many recaptured sales by focusing on take-out and delivery. As a result, customers saw sharp increases in demand for carry-out and delivery packaging across all regions. For example, in the U.S., demand for large delivery bags and drink carriers increased by more than 100% through April and May and increased run rates are expected through the end of 2020.
Looking ahead to 2021, we are modeling what steady state will look like based on volume drivers such as sales shifts to more delivery and drive-thru, and evolving restaurant procedures for safety and hygiene. In addition, all regions have activated global contingency plans and introduced new suppliers to support increased demand.
With shifting COVID-19 infection rates, government restrictions and re-openings around the globe, determining risks to supply is a moving target. Customers need a clearer perspective on guest counts, sales and inventory levels of food and cleaning supplies to be better prepared across markets.
HAVI quickly developed data visualization tools to deliver stronger visibility and empower customer decision-making through a global perspective on inventories, sales and impacts to supply. These included Global Food Inventory Dashboard, Global Chemical Supply Visibility and Global Guest Count and Sales Calendars.
Knowing that securing quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a priority to operating restaurants safely, HAVI shifted into high gear to find and deliver the PPE that allows restaurant teams to provide an essential service to the communities in which they serve. We rapidly redeployed resources across various functions to build and activate a mask supply chain within a short time period. As a result of working diligently with key suppliers, HAVI sourced 30 million masks for customers in less than three months.
Those masks were not secured without significant effort and vetting of suppliers. Despite the challenges, we are pleased to report that HAVI’s efforts, along with supplier partners, to secure the necessary masks have made it possible for thousands of restaurants across the globe to stay open and protect employees and customers.
Crises will almost immediately prove or disprove the effectiveness of a technology strategy, and the training of those who use it. HAVI’s consistent investment and implementation of the right technologies BEFORE the need arises has been tested and proven during the COVID-19 pandemic. HAVI employees seamlessly shifted to stay-at-home work environments while delivering the highest levels of support and connectivity to all customers.
This technology shift started with HAVI’s “cloud-first” mentality and strategic partnerships and investments in leading solutions by industry leaders like Microsoft. By moving most of its data and systems to cloud-based applications and storage, employees and partners can access critical information, tools and data at anytime from anywhere.
HAVI’s Virtual Situation Room (VSR) launched in the summer of 2019 as a tool to help plan and execute contingency plans in response to weather events such as hurricanes. VSR provides instant access to critical information and tools for real-time collaboration across supply chain partners - all in a single digital environment powered by Microsoft Teams and accessible from any device.
As effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the supply chain grew, so did the demand for this kind of contingency planning and collaboration. Customers needed VSR’s operations checklists, DC coverage scenario planning, DC predictive risk analysis and other tools to help them navigate the shifts in demand and supply. HAVI was able to quickly accommodate the swell of users, and VSR continues to prove valuable support and will be a critical tool for managing through crises in the future.
There's no question that COVID-19 has had a profound and irreversible impact on every aspect of normal life. After all, we are living through the consequences of this global health and economic crisis every day. The relevant question is: what does the next normal look like? HAVI led an insights survey at the start of the crisis and you can read about those results, as well as other perspective related to the "next normal" on HAVI's thought leadership blog: The HighCare Factor.