COVID-19: Vanuatu Beverage safeguards staff and production

Administration staff wearing masks

Vanuatu Beverage Limited, which produces premium local bottled water — Vanuatu Water, has a message for the Vanuatu public and all their customers throughout the country and beyond – that good health surpasses everything else.

This explains why all their products are handled after the most careful washing of hands by all their 90 members of staff to ensure that their products are safe for use at all times.

Not only that but in this unpredictable period as far as the threat by the coronavirus is concerned, Vanuatu Beverage is on “lockdown” at the main gate which means that all clients and guests are met at the gate and are not allowed to enter the company premises.

This is to guarantee a quality service that is second to none as far as security and standards are concerned. The main focus is on Vanuatu Water which continues to be the most popular product on demand in the current climate change era.

“It means we are working 24 hours seven days a week to make sure we build up enough stock so that if the crisis gets worse, then we have enough water in stock to deliver to our customers so we wish to assure our customers not to panic because our water stock will be sufficient for the next two months,” explains Teiva the Deputy General Manager.

“Now one of the important measures that we have taken is that the main gate is closed which means all customers and guests are not allowed on the premises anymore.

“However we continue to take orders from our customers at the gate. Those wishing to buy our products are welcome to come but they will be served by our Sales Assistant at the gate.

“Wearing a mask is mandatory on the company premises. The company is following all the hygiene requirements including hand washing for 20 seconds as recommended by the Government, and we also strongly recommended our teams to practice social distancing when off duty.”

“Our Government hasn’t declared the full confinement of the country yet but because we have such a popular product in the country we understand our responsibility to be the first one to step up and to make sure everybody stays safe”.

The Deputy General Manager speaks well of the Coronavirus Taskforce for stopping international passengers from entering the country by air and sea at this stage but allow cargo vessels in. “This allows us to keep operating because without theses imports, we would run out of raw materials including spare parts to fix our machines”, he says.

“If we close our operation, then there won’t be any jobs for our local staff and they won’t have any salaries to buy local foods at the market so the Taskforce has been very smart to keep the cargo vessels coming in under strict supervision and conditions”.

Speaking as an employer and investor he stresses, “As a business man and as an investor in the country, I say that health is more important than business. That is a good first step but I appreciate that the Government is taking steps to boost employment by promoting local production as a strategic sector in this time of crisis.

“If the first case is declared here, it would be devastating for the country and the economy so I applaud the relevant authorities for the difficult decisions they have taken until now. One reality is that we have to keep the imports in and let the economic activity run while the people remain where they are while we prevent the spreading (of the virus) as fast as we can.

“We have written internal procedures for our staff which are also displayed on our Vanuatu Beverage Ltd Facebook Page, and we are happy to see that our teams apply strictly our measures and recommendations for the benefit of their own and the general public”.

Essentially, Vanuatu Beverage is using European-made machines and therefore operates according to the International Standards in terms of food safety, which is recognized in the Pacific. But Teiva confirms that they intend to achieve worldwide recognition standards in terms of food standard and food security which is their main priority.

Asked to confirm if the machines came from Europe he replies, “Yes they have been made in Europe to respect European standards so we have technicians that come once a year from Europe with 20-30 years of experience to train the local staff. Out of our 90 employees, we only have one expat expert on the machines as we need him on a daily basis here”.

The last brother Vaitea Durand is the Industrial & Technical Manager of the company with a Diploma in Engineering and is training the ni-Vanuatu staff of the company on a daily basis.

Vanuatu Beverage Ltd is a family company owned by the Durand Family and partners. The operational managers on-site are three brothers Teiva, Manutea and Vaitea, the grandchildren of the Tahitian founder who established the company 50 years ago.

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