Layoffs expected at P.E.I.'s Cavendish Farms because of coronavirus

Prince Edward Island farmers have been dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, Cavendish Farms in New Annan has reduced production with no layoffs so far but expects there will be some in the short term. (Courtesy: SaltWire)

Potato Processor Cavendish Farms hasn’t laid off any staff yet because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but a spokeswoman for the company says short-term layoffs are expected.

Spokeswoman Mary Keith said in an email that the company is doing everything it can to minimize the impact on employees at its New Annan plants, including shifting production, shuffling resources, looking for volunteers who want time off, using vacation time and reducing overtime.

Keith said Cavendish Farms has reduced production with no layoffs so far but expects there will be some in the short term.

Mary Keith, Spokeswoman at Cavendish farms:
 

“It is our intent to give employees as much notice as possible.”

Cavendish Farms employs about 700 people at its facilities in New Annan and is one of the largest employers in the province.

While production continues, Cavendish Farms has listed on its website health and safety measures it has implemented to deal with the coronavirus, including providing up to three paid emergency leave days for employees and pay continuation for self-isolation.

The company has also enhanced sanitization protocols at its facilities.

Keith said the company’s forecasts are showing a steep decline in foodservice and fast food sales because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Retail sales increased, but not at the same rate as the declines in other sectors, Keith said.

Mary Keith:
 

“Regrettably, this situation is not unique to Cavendish Farms.”

“I hope food security keeps priority to give the farmers the confidence that they need putting this crop in.”


Prince Edward Island potato farmers also feeling the pinch

Island farmers have also been dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak and P.E.I. Potato Board general manager Greg Donald said everything changed around March 12.

Greg Donald, general manager at P.E.I. Potato Board:

 

 

“It’s been everything but normal.”

Greg Donald said people were buying potatoes as they stocked up on essentials, which a busy time for those who sell to grocery stores.

Those sales have slowed again and foodservice sales have also gone down, but the potato chip marketplace has been busy, Donald said.

The outlook for the next few weeks or months is still 'fuzzy,' Donald said, adding most varieties of potatoes can’t be used for different markets other than those they were intended for.

He also said that going into the new planting season there is a lot of uncertainty, including around labor and what markets will look like.

Greg Donald:

 

 

 

 

“I hope food security keeps priority to give the farmers the confidence that they need putting this crop in.”

 

 

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