In response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, JBS USA, an American-based food company and the majority shareholder of Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (NASDAQ: PPC), announced it is investing more than $200 million to support its team members and local communities in North America.
“Since the arrival of the global coronavirus pandemic, our priority has been and remains the safety of our team members providing food for all of us,” said Andre Nogueira, JBS USA CEO., in a company press release issued Friday. “We recognize our responsibility as a food company during this crisis and we have continuously evolved our operations, based on the latest available guidance from experts, to improve our coronavirus preventive measures.
"We have already invested more than $100 million to enhance safeguards for our workforce and more than $50 million to reward our team members with thank-you bonuses.," Nogueira added. "We are also excited to reaffirm our long-standing commitment to the rural towns and cities we call home across North America.”
JBS USA and Pilgrim’s will also invest more than $50 million in the local communities where their team members live and work. The investment will include donations to alleviate food insecurity, strengthen long-term community infrastructure and well-being, and support COVID-19 emergency response and relief efforts. The investment is part of the $120 million global social commitment recently announced by JBS S.A.
The press release also notes that JBS USA and Pilgrim’s have adopted more than $100 million in enhanced safety measures to keep their workplaces and team members safe, including increased sanitation and disinfection efforts, health screening and temperature checking, team member training, physical distancing, reduced line speeds and increased availability of personal protective equipment, including face masks and face shields. The companies have hired more than 1,000 new team members to conduct additional, around-the-clock sanitation and cleaning services, and to provide education, training and enforcement of COVID-19 preventive measures.
The companies are also investing in innovative technologies to combat the potential spread of coronavirus in their facilities, including ultraviolet (UV) germicidal air sanitation and plasma air technology to neutralize potential viruses in plant ventilation and air purification systems.
"Out of an abundance of caution, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s have removed the most vulnerable populations from their facilities, with full pay and benefits.," the press release also states. "This has resulted in the removal of approximately 10 percent of the eligible workforce in the United States. The policy exceeds any recommended guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or any other official health authority."
“I could not be more proud of how our team members have responded to this challenging time,” Nogueira said. “We salute the men and women who are supplying food to those who need it most and the local communities that have always sustained our business. We are not perfect and this has not been an easy time for any of us, but we are working tirelessly to keep our team members safe and provide food during this pandemic. We are all in this fight together.”