Donald, OR, March 19, 2020 – Hazelnut Growers of Oregon (HGO) has taken proactive steps to send its employees home during the coronavirus pandemic, (COVID-19).  Effective immediately, the HGO plant operations will continue to run with a limited staff but will not be accepting any visitors until further notice.  The Oregon Marketplace Store will remain closed until further notice.  We are dealing with unprecedented times and we are taking every precaution necessary to ensure we are limiting the spread of the virus.  

Greg Thorsgard, HGO’s Chief Operations Officer, said there is no job more important than the safety of its employees, growers, customers and consumers.  He added that keeping our population fed is also critical at this unprecedented time and HGO will continue to operate its processing facility with the required staff necessary to meet all customer orders.

“We understand the concerns with the vulnerability of the supply chain due to the recent spread of coronavirus,” Thorsgard noted in a recent letter to growers.  “There is no job more important than farming and making sure our population is fed.  As an SQF Level 3 certified facility, we have spent extensive time evaluating the risk of pandemics and other potential business interruptions and are confident that we will not have difficulties in meeting our supply commitments.  All our products and materials are stored at location and have been prior to the spread.  We have required our packaging suppliers to supply us with their contingency plans and have other pre-qualified sources should there be any disruptions.” 

Preventative Measures at the Plant

Our Crisis Management Team has conducted refresher trainings around our Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Food Safety Policies that were conducted in March, in addition to our standard trainings given.  The purpose is to reinforce the following points:

  • Disinfecting areas within the plant that are frequently touched by employees such as door handles, break room counters and tables, restroom stall doors, time clocks, and locker rooms.  In addition to the training we have increased the frequency in which our staff is doing these activities.
  • Added additional alcohol-based disinfectant wipes for increased used in common areas.
  • Minimizing colleagues working near each other.
  • Minimizing visitors to those that are doing immediate business and need to come to the plant.
  • Strongly advise team members to shelter at home when experiencing symptoms and call for medical advice prior to visiting any medical facility.
  • Encouraging our administrative team members and others to work remotely.

Business Continuity Plan

Our Business Continuity Plan ensures we cover potential business interruptions by leveraging our partnerships with other hazelnut processors in the valley.  These plants have similar equipment to ours, which would allow us to make a seamless transfer if there was an interruption.  Having secondary and tertiary suppliers that give us confidence that we can manage any interruption.

We will continue to monitor this closely to ensure we protect our products and customers.

Please keep informed on the most current health advice issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Oregon here: https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/epf/oregon.htm

About Hazelnut Growers of Oregon

Founded in 1984, Hazelnut Growers of Oregon (HGO), a business unit of farmer-owned cooperative Wilco, has more than 180 growers who collectively own more than 20,000 acres of prime hazelnut orchards.  HGO is the premier hazelnut processor and marketer in the U.S., servicing retail, ingredient, and food service channels for confection, snack food, and baking manufacturers around the globe.  The 120,000-square-foot processing plant also has 57,000 square feet of refrigerated storage space.  The Oregon hazelnut industry is expected to double in the next five years.  For more information visit https://www.wilco.coop/hazelnuts/.

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