Ebro Foods boosts pasta and rice output to meet coronavirus-driven demand

MADRID, March 6 (Reuters) - Spain’s Ebro Foods has ramped up production of pasta and rice in Western Europe and the United States in the past couple of weeks to meet growing demand by consumers worried by the coronavirus crisis, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.

Consumers around the world have been stockpiling non-perishable food and household items as the coronavirus spreads on fears they may end up in quarantine at home.

“To follow the peak in demand, we have increased our overall production in Italy, France, United States, Germany, Britain and Spain by 15% to 25%,” the spokeswoman said.

Ebro Foods owns brands such as Garofalo in Italy, Panzani in France and Minute Rice in the United States.

It has not had trouble sourcing raw materials on the market or noticed price volatility, the spokeswoman said, adding: “We have our own stocks of raw materials and future contracts.”

The company expects the market will adjust at some point as fears ease.

With sales worth 2.81 billion euros ($3.19 billion) in 2019, Ebro Foods says it is the world’s second-largest rice seller and the world’s second-largest dry and fresh pasta maker.

The company invested 149 million euros in 2019 to increase capacity on both sides of the Atlantic. ($1 = 0.8814 euros) (Reporting by Inti Landauro Editing by Ingrid Melander and Nick Macfie)