With soaring Covid-19 cases and resultant lockdowns threatening to disrupt businesses, FMCG companies continue with the strategies that helped them tide through the pandemic last year. These include strengthening of direct-to-consumer channels, building optimal inventory levels, ensuring stocks are near the selling point and increasing the frequency of supplies to distributors and outlets in the impacted markets.

The essential nature of FMCG products and the changes put in place over the past year of operating amid the pandemic, would ensure minimal business disruption, FMCG companies told BusinessLine .

“We are better prepared this year… 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,” said Marico’s spokesperson.

ITC also has a fully operational ITC e-store in all metro cities, which can meet consumer requirements directly, the company’s spokesperson said. “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.”

Leveraging on learnings

Companies are leveraging learnings from the experience of ensuring business continuity amid the pandemic over the past year to ensure supply chain agility. For instance, Dabur India is applying learnings from last year to streamline its supply chain, according to Adarsh Sharma, Executive Director-Sales, Dabur India. “Some of the measures implemented last year, like order-booking through our call centre and WhatsApp, continue to function and have been stepped up. Also, we have increased the frequency of supplies to distributors and outlets in the impacted markets to tide over any potential impact.”

Hindustan Unilever’s spokesperson affirmed that supply chain agility and resilience have significantly improved over the last year - not just for HUL but even for its partners - and this has made the supply chain function better and be prepared as a whole.

Emami is beefing up its supply chain by building stock of both finished goods as well as RMPM, wherever necessary. “We are also trying to ensure that our stocks are nearest to the selling point as much as possible so that our response time is minimized to tackle the situation in the event of any disruption. However, currently, we see no disruption anywhere,” said Harsha V Agarwal, Director, Emami Ltd.

As a proactive measure, Godrej Consumer Products Limited has ramped up its production levels, apart from building optimal inventory levels across multiple points in its supply chain from factories to warehouses across the country, said Sunil Kataria, CEO - India & SAARC, GCPL. “We do not expect any supply chain disruptions,” he said.

Ullas Kamath, Joint Managing Director at Jyothy Laboratories, also said that he does not expect any business disruption. Considering possible lockdowns, the company has aligned its supply chain and retail distribution to ensure a continuous supply of products across the country, he said.

“As an essentials provider, the disruption to our own business is going to be fairly limited because of the lockdown in place,” said Kartik Johari – Vice President Nobel Hygiene, a maker of adult diapers. “Lockdown or not, the demand for diapers and sanitary napkins will not reduce. What will be impacted are delivery systems. Last year, our field staff and regional managers went out of their way to personally deliver consignments to users, especially in regions where diapers were falling short. Our customer service stayed on the phone for hours, noting addresses, writing down problems. This time too, if it comes to that, we will do the same,” said Johari.