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FMCG companies step up supply amid fresh curbs in states

Last year, as demand for essential goods remained strong FMCG firms created links with hyperlocal delivery partners, activated sales to distributors and retailers through digital platforms and worked deeply with business-to-business suppliers to ensure availability in stores (HT)Premium
Last year, as demand for essential goods remained strong FMCG firms created links with hyperlocal delivery partners, activated sales to distributors and retailers through digital platforms and worked deeply with business-to-business suppliers to ensure availability in stores (HT)

  • Distributors of fast-moving consumer goods said they have enough stock at the retailer as well the distributor level to last them well beyond end of April

New Delhi: After a testing year that saw manufacturers and retailers of fast-moving consumer goods face erratic supplies and disruption in movement of goods, companies said they are better equipped to tackle demand for essential products as partial lockdowns return in pockets of the country.

FMCG firms have stepped up frequency of supplies to the market and distributors in anticipation of more restrictions in the next few weeks as India battles a surge in covid-19 cases. They are also taking lessons from last year's lockdown and using them at scale to ensure availability in the market.

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“While the buying sentiment has turned shaky in some markets highly impacted by cases and lockdowns, we are applying learnings from last year to streamline the supply chain. Some of the measures implemented last year, like order-booking though our call centre and WhatsApp have been stepped up. In addition, we have increased frequency of supplies to distributors and outlets in the impacted markets to tide over any potential impact," said Adarsh Sharma, executive director, sales at Dabur India Ltd.

Maharashtra, currently seeing a surge in covid-19 cases, has implemented a lockdown till end of April. However, sales of essentials are permitted in the state.

Capital Foods that makes the Ching’s Secret brand of instant noodles and spices said it added more depots in the last one year as demand for convenience foods shot up. “Last year we had four or five distribution depots in India. This time we have 12—so our material is already there in all the depots wherever it is needed, and we have already dispatched that material. Compared to a year ago period, we are a much better distributed company," said Navin Tewari, chief executive officer Capital Foods. Tewari however said consumers are less likely to buy in bulk this time around.

Distributors of fast-moving consumer goods said they have enough stock at the retailer as well the distributor level to last them well beyond end of April. “In a post-covid era, the salesmen has also evolved themselves when it comes to taking orders from retail. They are all now connected via WhatsApp, with the company software and with individual retailers, so placing orders is not a problem. Besides, deliveries of essential goods is still allowed in Maharashtra," Dhairyashil Patil, national president, All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation said.

Online retailer Grofers reported a spike in weekly demand in the aftermath of the lockdown announced in Maharashtra. "We have already witnessed a 30% spike in weekly demand in these markets. With the state government announcing stricter lockdown norms, we are ramping up our capacities to serve our customers in a safe and secure manner," a company spokesperson said.

Last year, as demand for essential goods remained strong FMCG firms created links with hyperlocal delivery partners, activated sales to distributors and retailers through digital platforms and worked deeply with business-to-business suppliers to ensure availability in stores.

Saffola oil maker Marico Ltd launched its direct-to-consumer platform last year which could be handy if more states decide to impose curfews. "During the national lockdown last year, we undertook a few initiatives to ensure the availability of our products to consumers across the country through our direct-to-consumer portal—Saffola Store, as well as last mile partnerships with national aggregators," said a company spokesperson. “We are better prepared this year and aim to continue our operations safely while employing stringent precautions to ensure both, member health and business continuity, the person added.

Local arm of German cash and carry retailer Metro, which activated its e-commerce platform in March last year, said it accounts for about 20% of its trader sales. Arvind Mediratta, managing director and chief executive, Metro Cash and Carry India said supplies have, so far, not been impacted as people including FMCG manufacturers, suppliers and even commodity suppliers, have got wiser. But such partial lockdowns are a “dampener" for businesses. A curfew in Maharashtra and other states could impact business by 30-35% in April, he added.

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