FMCG companies see a spurt in ‘COVID-19 sales’

Consumers on panic buying spree stock up essentials; firms step up production of soaps, liquid handwashes, cut prices

March 24, 2020 11:15 pm | Updated 11:15 pm IST - MUMBAI

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a spike in the demand of consumer staples like milk, milk products and biscuits along with hand sanitisers as people are stocking up essentials amid a complete lockdown like scenario.

Companies like Amul, Parle and Godrej Consumer Products have seen a 10-15% jump in demand across product categories and ramped up production to meet the growing demand.

This assumes significance as more States initiate a complete lockdown amid a growing number of confirmed cases of the virus, which would only push up the demand for such staples.

“We have seen an increase of 15-20% in our average daily sales across most product categories as consumers are stocking products like milk, butter, ghee, cheese and paneer,” said R.S. Sodhi, managing director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, which owns Amul.

Some States like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Delhi have imposed stern restrictions on people movement, along with a lockdown, which has made consumers wary of essential products going out of stock, thereby leading to panic buying.

The popular Parle G biscuit has also seen a notable increase in demand on the back of panic buying.

“There is a bit of panic buying and we have seen around 10-15% increase in our average weekly sales of Parle G,” said Parle Products category head Mayank Shah.

Apart from food essentials, products like hand washes have also seen an increase in sales as authorities have been highlighting the importance of sanitising hands at regular intervals.

“In some categories, such as hand washes and sanitisers, we have seen temporary spike in demand, driven by the impact of COVID 19,” said Vivek Gambhir, MD and CEO, Godrej Consumer Products.

“We have also heard of some instances of consumers trying to hoard essentials. Retailers have begun to put restrictions on quantities being purchased. We believe that there should be no reason to panic as there should be sufficient supplies available,” Mr. Gambhir added.

Production ramped up

To meet the increased demand, companies have also ramped up their production as the virus threat is not showing any signs of abating as of now. “We have recently ramped up production of soaps by 30% and have increased production of liquid hand washes by 3.5X at our units as well as through our vendor partner units,” Mr. Gambhir said.

In a similar context, Mr. Shah said that the company had increased production by 15% while closely working with governments to ensure there is minimal logistical issue and all its trade partners have sufficient stock.

Incidentally, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), which is the country’s largest pure play fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, has also reduced the prices of Lifebuoy sanitisers, Lifebuoy Liquid handwash and Domex floor cleaners by 15% and said that the products with the reduced prices would be available in the market in the next few weeks. The company has also ramped up the production of Lifebuoy sanitisers, Lifebuoy Handwash liquid and Domex Floor Cleaners and will be scaling it up even further in the coming weeks, it had said in a statement issued last week.

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