Nestlé has “scaled down or suspended” parts of its operations in India, the food giant’s local business has announced.

In a stock-exchange filing issued just after 5pm local time yesterday (24 March), Nestlé India said: “In view of the lockdown in many of the states/union territories across the country, the operations in some of the locations (manufacturing, distribution centres/warehouses, offices, suppliers) are scaled down or suspended.

“As the company is in the manufacture and sale of food and beverage products, the company is in discussion with the authorities to continue operations in the factories/distribution centres where the operations have been suspended.”

The Maggi maker added: “The company is closely monitoring the situation and will take all necessary measures as directed by the central and state Government and authorities, from time to time. The impact on the operations of the company cannot be assessed at this point.”

Nestlé India said it was “taking various measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all employees”, including allowing staff at its local headquarters and regional offices to work from home.

Three hours later, India’s Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from midnight local time on Wednesday to try to slow the spread of coronavirus in the country.

“The entire country will be in lockdown, total lockdown,” Modi said. 

just-food has approached Nestlé India for an update on the status of its business in the wake of Modi’s announcement. Nestlé has seven factories in India.

In Nestlé’s group annual report for 2019, the company said it generated sales of CHF1.67bn (US$1.7bn) in India last year, up 9% when measured in Swiss francs. The company’s total sales were CHF92.57bn. India was Nestlé’s 13th largest market by sales.