US: Food makers close sites ahead of Hurricane Sandy arrival

By Dean Best | 29 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy is forecast to hit land at 8-9pm ET today

Hurricane Sandy is forecast to hit land at 8-9pm ET today

US food manufacturers including PepsiCo, Mondelez International and Hershey have closed offices and factories as Hurricane Sandy moves closer to the country's eastern seaboard.

Nestle and Unilever have also confirmed some of their US sites have been affected as the storm, which by some measurements could reach 1,000 miles across when it hits the US, makes its way in from the Atlantic.

PepsiCo confirmed its offices in Westchester have been closed. Mondelez has closed its regional North American offices in East Hanover in New Jersey, as well as an R&D facility and a factory in the state. A manufacturing plant in Philadelphia has also been closed.

A PepsiCo spokesperson said all of the snack giant's sites in the region had worked over the weekend to prepare for the storm.

"All the sites, warehouses, plants, etc., worked through the weekend on preparedness and now each site is determining best plan of action based on weather updates.

Hershey, which has its HQ in Pennsylvania, has shut all its facilities in the state, a spokesman told just-food.

"The hurricane is expected to pass right over us here in Central PA. We've closed all PA facilities today and employees are at home until further notice. The storm should hit this afternoon and is expected to increased into the evening and tomorrow.  The flood risk will peak here tomorrow afternoon," the Hershey spokesperson said. "The next 36 hours will be telling."

Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall later this evening US time. ABC News said the "size and power" of the storm is "almost without equal". CBS News said the storm could reach winds of 90mph and forecast landfall would coincide with high tide.

"We are not hyping this storm. It's going to live up to its potential and then some," CBS meterologist Jeff Berardelli said.

Unilever has closed its facilities in Englewood Cliffs in New Jersey and Trumbull in Connecticut. Its factories on the East Coast are also shut. A spokesperson said the company's Englewood Cliffs and Trumbull facilities would stay closed tomorrow but added "no decision" had been taken on the factories.

A spokesperson for Nestle's US unit said some of its sites had been closed. 

Dutch retail giant Ahold, which has stores along the East Coast, has also been affected.

"The situation is deteriorating rapidly on the East Coast," Tracey Pawelski, vice president for external communications for Ahold USA, told just-food.

"At this point in time, nine stores are closed in the New York Metro division under mandatory closures imposed by state government. Mandatory evacuations started on Sunday and continue today in many coastal areas of New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and parts of New York City due to the expected high winds, potential for significant storm surge and the full moon which causes naturally higher tides.  

"At this time, associates in many stores have been asked to make reasonable efforts to be at work or to work with their supervisors if they are concerned about personal safety. We just received a message from management that support offices will be closing early today."

Sectors: Cereal, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Dairy, Frozen, Snacks

Companies: PepsiCo, Hershey, Unilever, Nestle, Mondelez International, Ahold

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