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Columbia Business Monthly

Sauer Brands Adjusting Production to Reflect Impact of Pandemic

Apr 13, 2020 09:06PM ● By David Dykes

By David Dykes

Sauer Brands Inc., which has a manufacturing facility in Mauldin, said it is placing a portion of its workforce on temporary furlough as a result of a sharp industrywide decline in demand for food products from restaurants and other foodservice customers hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

The action affects 131 employees nationwide, including 97 in Mauldin and 34 in New Century, Kan., company officials said. 

Employees in both locations make a variety of products, including Southern staple Duke’s Mayonnaise, for sale to retail and foodservice customers that rely on Sauer Brands for condiments, spices, seasonings and extracts.

Affected employees have been notified and will be paid through April 17 to give them time to file for unemployment benefits, company officials said. They will continue to be covered under the company’s healthcare insurance program, with the company paying both employee and employer contributions to the cost of the benefits for up to 60 days, the officials said.

“We want to emphasize that these are temporary furloughs and we expect to recall affected employees as needed as foodservice demand begins to return to pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Martin Kelly, president and CEO of Sauer Brands Inc. “We know this is a difficult time for everybody, particularly those who are directly affected, and we regret that circumstances have made this action necessary.”

Demand from Sauer Brands’ retail customers – grocery stores, big-box outlets and others that sell directly to consumers – has surged as Americans eat more meals at home, Kelly said. But business from restaurants, institutions and others that buy through foodservice distributors has declined as a result of stay-at-home orders, mandated dine-in closures and other social distancing measures across the U.S.

Retail research firm The NPD Group reported that restaurant customer transactions dropped 42 percent in the week ending March 29 compared to the same week a year ago. 

About 97 percent of all U.S. restaurants are now under some type of restrictions, with most prohibiting dine-in service, Sauer Brands officials said.

Full-service restaurants that aren’t set up for off-premise service such as drive-through, carryout and delivery were down 79 percent, while quick-service restaurants that offer off-premise service saw transactions drop 40 percent, the officials said, citing NPD.

Founded as The C.F. Sauer Company in 1887, Richmond, Virginia-based Sauer Brands manufactures a broad line of flavors including condiments, spices, seasonings and extracts. 

From the company’s manufacturing facilities in Richmond, Mauldin, New Century, and San Luis Obispo, Calif., the company sells brands such as Duke’s Mayonnaise, The Spice Hunter, Sauer’s, Gold Medal and BAMA, and well as private label products through the retail and foodservice channels

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