Mondelez leads through pandemic uncertainty

The snacks company is focusing on the 3 strategic priorities — scalable, dependability and culture to ensure uninterrupted access to essential food products

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ pic by BLOOMBERG

THE Covid-19 crisis has put a spotlight on companies who are defining what they are through their response to it, notably companies with carefully built sense of purpose and values.

Mondelez International Inc MD of Malaysia and Singapore James Kane said in overcoming the pandemic, Mondelez is more focused than ever on one of its core values — do what’s right — to ensure the company does the right thing for its people, consumers, customers and community.

“Beyond this, our ‘snacking made right’ commitment remains as strong today as ever before. Our purpose to empower people to snack right continues to be the guiding principle for our decision-making in these times,” he told The Malaysian Reserve recently.

Kane said while the global pandemic has impacted the economy and caused challenges for many markets and consumers, Mondelez is also experiencing a surge in demand in some markets and categories such as biscuits.

“We need to be super agile to ensure we deploy resources to meet the new normal, while managing the drop in demand in other areas.

“We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst as the situation continues to unfold in the months ahead. Positive steps are already being taken by the government and business sectors to protect the industry and keep supermarket shelves well-stocked,” he said.

However, he said the situation needs to be monitored and further efforts may be required from corporate and government bodies to keep supply chains open and minimise disruption to the food system and communities.

Weathering Economic Disruptions

Mondelez continues to invest in its brands and customers, and has been accelerating plans on e-commerce, as well as working on simplification and efficiency.

“Our focus remains on the three strategic priorities and our long-term goals, and we will take opportunities to make short-term tactical shifts as required,” Kane said.

These strategic priorities include scalable, where there will be more efforts in bringing consumer-centrism into the company’s thinking and decision making.

Next is dependability, which is to create efficiency in route to market, creating value in the supply chain and improving the company’s return on investment.

Lastly is culture. By ensuring the company’s employees have an end-to-end capability to succeed, simplification of decision making and agility to respond to market conditions.

As the snacking trend grows and demand increases, Kane said Mondelez’s distribution networks continue to work efficiently so that consumers have uninterrupted access to essential food products.

“Where we operate, we see a growing demand for our products such as biscuits brand Jacobs and cheese brands Philadelphia and Kraft,” he said.

Despite many uncertainties, he said consumers are rediscovering and renewing their love for Mondelez’s trusted global brands and its taste-of-the-nation local jewels like Chipsmore.

Adapting the New Normal

Kane pointed out that Covid-19 has changed the world and Mondelez has demonstrated agility and adaptability in learning to connect with people and protect the business in a virtual environment.

“Our office-based team has practically been fully working from home just before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was first declared, and we are assessing options to return in phases, but not hastily.

“It is unlikely that we will return to the old ways and we’ll further embrace the remote working approach which has been accelerated by the pandemic,” he said.

He believes that in a fully virtual world, one should prioritise connections, be it casual, personal, human, or heartfelt and that social distancing does not mean separation.

In the future, he predicted that there will be a more evolved style of working where some prefer a fluid line between work and life, and others may prefer a structured schedule as work and home commitments may collide.

The Future of Food, Snacking

Despite the challenge of Covid-19, Kane is bullish about the future of food and snacking specifically during times of crisis, food is essential, and people turn to snacks to bring some normalcy into their lives.

“Recovery from this situation may take some time. It is good that now, under the Recovery MCO (RMCO), most businesses can operate.

“We look forward to more immediate measures by the government to keep businesses running and protect the livelihood of employees,” he said.

On Mondelez’s current business operations, Kane said they are well-positioned as they head into the crisis with strong momentum in their categories due to years of investment in the business and their brands.

“We concentrate on maintaining business continuity and keeping routes-to-market open, while preparing for a strong future,” he added.

Both Mondelez’s factories in Shah Alam, Selangor and Prai, Penang, are fully operational prioritising domestic production while ensuring strict adherence to the RMCO and guidelines by the Health Ministry.

Kane said the company is doing its best to support employees who are coming to work as they carry out their essential duties.

“I am grateful for and inspired by the dedication and professionalism that I see from our frontline employees who are working to keep our supply chain going.”