The coronavirus-induced lockdown has crippled the operations of FMCG distributors as they deal with shortage of manpower.
"The major issue we are facing is lack of manpower, particularly loaders. I have received the products from the manufacturer but how do I distribute?” said a Mumbai-based distributor of Marico and RB India (Reckitt Benckiser)
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"Cops are stopping the labourers who are willing to come," he added.
A similar story was also shared by a Hindustan Unilever distributor.
"We have asked nearby retailers to come and collect the cartons from us," he said.
The grocery stores have been facing immense shortage of essential items. They claim that no new stock of biscuits, rice, aata, ghee, pulses has arrived.
Other items such as bread, milk and eggs are available for a short window early in the morning.
Grocery store managers said we will have to wait for 2-4 days before everything settles down as many were not prepared for a 21-day lockdown.
Government Measures for Supply Chain
Amidst Lockdowns, state governments have a stepped in with aid of technology to link the chains between stockists and delivery partners. While still sufficient stocks are reported at warehouses , the last mile delivery to neighbourhood kirana stores faced police obstruction.
The Delhi government was the first to issue e-passes through helpline no 1031 over WhatsApp to grocery, milk, medicine and vegetable stores.
In Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra, in its revised lockdown order, government allowed groceries and medicine stores to be open 24×7 to avoid panic buying and overcrowding.
Role of Local Administration
The initial approach of local administration on first day of lockdown on March 25 was to keep everybody off the streets. Gradually, with better coordination between government authorities and local administration, movement for supplies of essentials have been allowed with checks and balances.
Mumbai Police has exempted movement of medical services, ambulance, essential commodities from the lockdown.
Revised notification of Maharashtra Government on March 26 stated: "E-commerce delivery of essential and necessary goods including food, pharmaceutical and medical equipment … shall be excluded from the restriction."
After a day of total ban on movements, Gurgaon Police has allowed representatives of Zomato, Flipkart, Amazon, Big Bazaar, Swiggy, Grofers, BigBasket and Milkbasket to operate since March 26.