ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Mondelēz International CEO Van de Put runs a snacks empire that produces treats like Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies and Cadbury and Toblerone chocolates. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Van de Put revealed how the organization is adapting to changing consumer behaviors brought about by COVID-19 and reveals plans for the future.
“We see an increase in in-home snacking. There’s a pronounced change of the consumer eating a lot more in their homes and less in restaurants, less on the go,” Van de Put told Bloomberg. Snacking is not all bad since it gives them “a little bit more normalcy. They want to feel good, safe. So, they snack more and go a little bit more to comfort food.”
In case of another wave of COVID, the manufacturer is prepared to stockpile ingredients to ensure consumer demands are met.
“Our suppliers could have problems, too,” he said. “We start to look for temporary workers or increase our workforce to make sure that we can keep our supply chain going and our sales force going. We reinforced all the measures that we have in our plants and in our offices, but we also spend a lot of time with our people talking about how to behave outside of our facilities to make sure they stay safe and healthy.”
The company did encounter supply issues during the recent lockdown and was forced to shut down some plants for a day or two, but “overall, we’ve been able to keep our supply chain going largely,” he said.
COVID has changed a lot of things—from the way manufacturers produce products to the way they are transported and how they’re marketed to the public.
“We had to adapt our communication because people are sitting at home, and some of the communication we have on our brands is all about getting together with your friends or being out. Well, that doesn’t play a role [now],” Van de Put told Bloomberg. “For instance, with Oreo in China, we started to discover that we needed to really focus our communication on how to cook with Oreo and how to use Oreos in recipes at home. We would normally never have done that, but in this case, we had to.”
Mondelēz International promotes a program called Mindful Snacking, “which means really being in the moment and understanding when you’re snacking what you’re eating,” Van de Put said. “Enjoy the taste, for instance, but grab things with your left hand instead of your right hand if you’re right-handed, so you know each time that you’re taking another snack.”
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.