Here at Tillamook, our hearts go out to those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As farmers and food producers, we have always been proud of the role we play in helping to bring food to people’s tables. Our dedication to that responsibility holds true more than ever in times of crisis. We continue to monitor the COVID outbreak closely and are carefully following guidance from local and national health officials. As we learn more, we adjust the way we do business and continue to prioritize the health and safety of our employees and all our fans who love Tillamook products in every decision we make. Some of these decisions are reflected below:
Tillamook Creamery Visitors Center
On March 13, we made the decision to close our Tillamook Creamery visitors center until further notice. When we did so, many of you asked about our fantastic employees there who were being sent home. They remain part of our team and have continued to be paid for their scheduled shifts. Given the unknowns that lie ahead that will impact when we might reopen the Creamery, we have made a decision to keep the impacted employees on our payroll at least through May 31, and will continue to monitor and address the situation if our closure timeline extends beyond that. We look forward to welcoming our employees and all visitors back into the Creamery as soon as it is safe to do so.
Manufacturing and Supply Chain
The COVID-19 pandemic has not disrupted our manufacturing operations or our supply chain. We continue to make Tillamook products every day. We have more than 95 million pounds of cheese aging in our warehouses. We constantly communicate with our suppliers and our retail partners. Working together with them, we have successfully kept up with demand and are filling customer orders at more than 98%. We’ve been in business for more than a century and have weathered many challenges. We remain confident in our ability to navigate consumer needs in the weeks and months ahead.
All of our employees who are able to work remotely are now doing so, and we are adjusting how we get work done. Ever attended a “virtual” town hall? We did it last Friday with hundreds of our employees. Our talented R&D lab? It has found a way to remain safely up and running creating the next great ice cream flavor or cheese snack. Our dedicated farm services folks? They continue to visit farms and support our farmer-owners every day. Teams across our entire company have found inventive, productive and fun ways to keep doing dairy right, despite these very unusual times.
Community and Living Up to Our Values
Throughout all of this, we will continue to find ways to put our values into action, support each other and the communities where we live. Our dedication to our Stewardship Charter sustains our farmer-owned co-op every day, but particularly so in times like these, as we do everything we can to serve and support our six key stakeholders: the farms and hardworking farmers that supply us with milk, the cows who are essential to that milk supply, our surrounding ecosystem of natural resources that is so important for us to sustain, the fans who consume our products and expect the best from them, our employees who dedicate themselves to Tillamook every day and the important communities in which we all live and work. As just one recent example, when we made the decision to close our Tillamook Creamery visitors center, we worked quickly to donate more than 1,000 pounds of food that would have been wasted to the Oregon Food Bank and Meals for Seniors. These acts of service will continue.
All of us at Tillamook take great pride in being part of our essential food supply. Food not only serves a basic human need, but the enjoyment of great food also serves the human desire for joy, even in small servings. When you enjoy Tillamook dairy products in your homes, we hope not only to provide nourishment to you and your families, but also perhaps provide a moment’s respite from the stresses of today.
We send you all our best wishes. We will continue to post updates here and on our social media channels as any new developments occur. We hope you are well.
President & CEO Patrick Criteser and everyone at the Tillamook County Creamery Association