New Zealand’s largest company Fonterra has announced that it is exiting Russia, after its Co-op decided “to suspend shipments of product to Russia at the end of February.”
The decision from the world’s largest dairy exporter comes after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. The company assured that it will redeploy the staff affected by its move.
“Following careful consideration of the impact on our people and our long-term plans for the Russian market, we will now close our office in Moscow, re-deploying staff where possible, and withdraw from our joint venture Unifood,” said Fonterra chief executive officer Miles Hurrell in a statement.
Fonterra entered a joint partnership with Russia’s Unifood in December 2018, but it has been exporting butter to the country for more than 40 years.
The company is exporting a small amount of mostly butter to Russia, totalling about one per cent of the company’s exports.
The announcement of withdrawal follows the company’s initial move to suspend shipment of its products while it assessed the situation.
“We then suspended shipment of product to Russia while we assessed the impact of economic sanctions and discussed our long-term plans with our customers and joint venture partner,” Hurrell said.
Emphasis on people
Fonterra, in its announcement, has underscored that it is putting its priority on its people affected by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
It said it will re-deploy affected staff, but before this, the company said it has always made sure that their people are safe from the conflict.
“Our first step following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was to establish the safety of the team in Russia, and our priority through this process continues to be doing the right thing by our people,” explained Hurrell.
Fonterra joins a growing list of companies around the world that are suspending their operations in Russia to oppose the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
This includes American corporations Starbucks and McDonald’s , where the latter said it will keep supporting its 62,000-strong affected workforce in Russia.
Swedish furniture giant IKEA also announced that it is suspending its operations in Russia, affecting about 15,000 employees. The company, however, assured that it is taking steps to secure the jobs of the workers.
Meanwhile, to keep employees’ morale intact, HR leaders are advised to address their workers’ concerns regarding the Russian invasion, wherever they may be located. Andrew Caldwell , HR manager at Peninsula Canada, told HRD that HR could take the following steps:
- Acknowledge what is happening
- Offer flexible hours or approved requested Time Off
- Mental Health check