Food, medicine supply still choked; Transport bottlenecks show signs of easing – Economic Times

Restaurant News

New Delhi | Kolkata | Bengaluru | Kochi | Pune | Chandigarh: Fresh supply of food, groceries and medicines remained choked for retailers and ecommerce companies, while meat prices soared with scarcity because of the lockdown, but transportation bottlenecks showed signs of easing, raising the supply of vegetables in wholesale markets.

Prices of potato, dairy items and meat may rise further with cold storages running out of refrigerants. The poultry industry is in distress as they are unable to get feed for birds. Retail chains said customers continued to hoard, leaving very low stocks of staples like atta, poha, rajmaand packaged food like biscuits and instant noodles. Labour shortage magnified their problems. “Most top manufacturers are not supplying as their local distribution centres are shut due to labour shortage,” said More Retail deputy managing director Mohit Kampani.

Spencer’s Retail and Nature’s Basket said many products were sold out. The two retail chains have started sending their own trucks to manufacturers to refill stock, which is so insufficient that by evening it is getting sold out. Flipkart, Amazon, BigBasket and Grofers said supply had normalised to some extent but their capacity to deliver products remained quite small.

Rohit Sharma, the head of supply chain said Grofers was ramping up its supply chain capabilities and working closely with manufacturers to secure stocks. “But there will be longer delivery times as we were not allowed to operate for a few days in anumber of cities,” he added. BigBasket chief executive Hari Menon said the company was focusing on 3,500 essential items for procurement and was expanding manpower. “We have started a huge drive to hire on-ground staff, including getting back people in our system who had left for home. We are also hiring fresh employees,” he said. Flipkart Group senior VP and chief corporate affairs officer Rajneesh Kumar said government efforts to ease supply and transportation problems were helpful.

An Amazon executive said: “We are able to replenish supplies at our warehouses but are unable to get the goods out to consumers because of an acute shortage of manpower.” Kailash Gupta, the president of the All India Chemists and Druggists Federation, said the supply chain remained disrupted. “The company distributors are not coming to the chemists. The warehouses are not open which is resulting in supply chain disruption. The warehouses stock medicines and are located all across the country, on the outskirts of cities,” Gupta said.

The price of mutton and fish rose in North India because of limited supply, although chicken prices have crashed due to poor sales. “With closure of the government abattoir in Ghazipur and non-issuance of e-passes, we are unable to sell mutton in Delhi-NCR,” said Gulfam Salahuddin, the president of the goat and sheep market at Ghazipur. He said wholesale prices of the old inventory had increased by 60%.

Vegetable supply is gradually rising although there are bottlenecks on fruits. “The situation is improving in the Azadpur market. Overall sales on Monday rose by 10% against past one week,” said Metha Ram Kriplani, the president of Delhi’s Azadpur Chamber of Fruits and Vegetables Association. He said orders from Punjab, Himachal, Haryana and Chandigarh had started coming in and if the transportation issue was resolved, sales would pick up.

(Reporting by Writankar Mukherjee, Jayashree Bhosale, Prashant Krar, Madhvi Sally, PK Krishnakumar, Alnoor Peermohamed, Aditi Shrivastava, Sutanuka Goshal & Teena Thacker)

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