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Kraft Heinz cuts output at three plants, adds shifts for mac & cheese

By Carolina Mandl
Shareholders shop for discounted products at the Kraft Heinz booth at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha

By Carolina Mandl

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Kraft Heinz Co <KHC.O> said on Friday it has moved to significantly reduce production at three plants providing restaurant supplies amid the new coronavirus outbreak, but its CEO noted the company has added shifts at others to meet demand for packaged foods like macaroni and cheese.

Speaking in a video presentation hosted by Brazilian retail brokerage XP Inc <XP.O>, Miguel Patricio said the affected factories, two in the United States and one in the United Kingdom, are in the food service segment and saw demand drop due to the pandemic, mainly in Europe.

In a statement sent after the video, in which Patricio said the plants had been halted, Kraft said, "These facilities have significantly reduced production."

Patricio, who took over as Kraft Heinz's CEO last year, said its packaged food units are working in three shifts to meet high demand, especially for macaroni and cheese in the United States and canned beans and soups in the United Kingdom.

"We feel that people are seeking more comfort food at this moment, as they seek some other ways to feel pleasure," Patricio said.

He said operations in China are returning to normal now, but he feels that consumers' behavior has changed, as individuals are using more home deliveries.

Patricio said he considers Kraft Heinz to be a "safe haven" but is worried about the effect of credit constraints on its suppliers, adding that he is looking at ways to address the issue.

The company's shares were up 2.7% on Friday even as the S&P500 <.SPX> slumped 1.5%.


(Kraft corrects CEO presentation that three facilities had been halted, says the plants have reduced production. Story corrects headline and first and second paragraphs, and adds third paragraph of company explaining the change.)


(Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Christian Plumb and Sonya Hepinstall)