FMCG firms such as ITC, Parle Products, Marico, Emami, PepsiCo India and CG Corp Global on Wednesday assured uninterrupted supply of their products based on the learnings from the last year's lockdown, even as surge in COVID-19 cases in India forced Maharashtra to declare a 15-day curfew while other states also imposing various restrictions.
Maharashtra on Tuesday announced a statewide curfew from Wednesday, entailing stricter curbs on public activities, to curb spread of coronavirus but stopped short of announcing a full-scale lockdown.
"There is a lot of learning that has gone in from last year...this time things are far better managed. Companies have learnt how to deal with it.
"Governments have also learnt what they should be doing when they announce a lockdown," Parle Products senior category head Mayank Shah told PTI.
Asserting that there is no worry on the supply side, he said, "There is much clarity this time. Things are smooth, even local administration knows and companies are better geared up."
An ITC spokesperson said, "ITC has taken all necessary steps to ensure enhanced availability of products for consumers across all channels.
"Over the period of the pandemic, we have developed strong operating policies and agile organisational structures for dealing with all types of market constraints and volatility."
The spokesperson further said the company is confident that its robust supply chain system will ensure that all sales channels, including e-commerce are serviced adequately during this time.
"We also now have a fully operational ITC e-store in six metro cities which can meet consumer requirements directly."
Similarly, a PepsiCo India spokesperson said the company is taking all necessary measures across channels to ensure that consumer demand is met at all occassions.
"At the other end, we are also following all necessary protocols and taking precautions to ensure safety for everyone involved," the spokesperson added.
A Marico spokesperson also said the company is better prepared this year and aims to continue its operations safely while employing stringent precautions to ensure both, member health and business continuity.
"We have proper systems and processes in place to deal with such scenarios and are adequately equipped to tackle any such challenges.
"During the national lockdown last year, we undertook a few initiatives to ensure the availability of our products to our consumers across the country through our direct-to-consumer portal, 'Saffola Store', as well as last-mile partnerships with national aggregators. We will continue innovating to cater to our consumers," the Marico spokesperson.
When reached out for comments, Emami Director Harsha V Agarwal said, "Right now, we don't see any impact but we are keeping a close track."
However, CG Corp Global managing director Varun Chaudhary said that due to specific area bases/micro lockdowns and curfew imposed to protect public health, many industries including the FMCG industry continue to grapple with operational challenges during these times.
"As many people and organisations around the country are taking steps to curtail repercussions induced by the second outbreak, we have devised strategies and plan to aid manufacturing, supply chain agility and inventory replenishment during times of sudden disruptions," he added.
Chaudhary said the company is facing challenges such as underutilisation of capacity due to shortage of workforce in factories along with incurring extra transportation cost due to hindrance in movement.
"However, we will continue to look for ways and means to sustain a minimum operation level to ensure continual supply of WAI WAI (noodles) to the people of the nation," he added.
On the distribution side, Shah of Parle Products said online sales are expected to pick up after tapering off in the last two quarters of the previous fiscal.
"There was some sluggishness after growing around 3x during the first six months of last (fiscal) year.
"In the two quarters, there was still growth in e-commerce but there was certain tapering which was happening. Now this will pick up again," he said.
Shah also said the only challenge for the companies would be to ensure that people working in their ecosystem, from manufacturing to distribution, are not affected by the second wave of the pandemic.
HUL and Nestle India did not comment citing silent period ahead of their upcoming financial results.
According to the Union health ministry data updated on Wednesday, the number of new coronavirus cases in India hit a record daily high with 184,372 infections.
It has pushed the total tally of cases to 1,38,73,825, while the active cases surpassed the 13-lakh mark.
Photograph: Mansi Thapliya/Reuters