Considering a better food and consumables supply in the COVID-19 lockdown period, India’s leading FMCG major, Parle suggested that restrictions on a number of workers in factories located in green and amber zones, specially for food products companies. The company mentioned, that there is s acute need for relaxation for operational efficiency of manufacturing factories as meeting demand will become difficult and can lead to scarcity.
With availability of labour still a challenge due to large scale migration in the wake of coronavirus-induced lockdown, the government must give relaxation to food firms to even use up to 100 per cent workforce in factories which are not in containment or red zones under strict standard operating procedures, said Parle Products Senior Category Head Mayank Shah.
“On one front migrant labour is not available. In some zones, like green and amber zones labour is not an issue. The issue there is the government diktat of not using more than 50 per cent workforce,” Shah mentioned.
Stating that many companies are unable to ramp up capacity in factories in green and amber zones due to the labour restriction of 50 per cent, he said, “While that is perfectly fine and we have no issue with that, what we are requesting the government is at least in food industry start giving a little bit of relaxation there because we are a labour-intensive industry.” Underlining the significance of the issue, Shah said, “With labour restriction of 50 per cent, we are operating at around 60-65 per cent of our production capacity. We will continue working on that as beyond this we won’t be able to make it more efficient because we are labour intensive.” He further said, “then that would have a direct impact on availability of food in market. If you don’t allow us to operate at 80, 90 or 100 per cent of our capacity, you will not find products as on one side demand has gone up. We are seeing that in many categories.”
Citing Parle Products’ own case he said, “Even for us the products that are available in the market are hand to mouth. You will find a product in the morning and by mid-day or evening, it is over. There should be enough production happening so that at no point in time there is a scarcity of the product in the market.”
He said food products companies through industry chamber CII have “requested the government that in zones which are not containment or red zones, give relaxation to companies to operate with the higher labour force.” Shah also said supply chain issues that were prevalent in the beginning of the lockdown have been sorted out.
“The only challenge ahead of the entire industry today is that of labour. The migrant labours who have gone back to their villages is the only challenge…We are a labour-intensive industry and we have a sizeable amount of migrant labour in our workforce,” he said. The matter is not restricted just to the company but it also affects “our distributors, who also employ migrant labours”, Shah said.