Adani Wilmar, the company that sells the Fortune brand of edible oils and other food products, is keeping an inventory for 12 days at its 92 warehouses, compared with 10 days during normal times, managing director Angshu Mallick said.
“This is being done to ensure smooth supply to our dealers, distributors and consumers in case some restrictions are put in place by state governments,” he said, adding: “Also, the wedding season starts on January 15. Therefore, there will be additional demand.”
Companies aren’t expecting states or the central government to impose restrictions like during the first two waves of Covid-19, or even the pandemic to become as severe. Also, movement of food items is exempted from any restrictions. But they still are cautious.
Mallick said his company is even stocking up packaging materials and chemicals that are used in the refining of crude edible oils.
Prices of Pulses Likely to Stay Stable
Supplies of some of these had faced problems during the Covid waves.
Gurnam Arora, joint managing director at basmati rice company Kohinoor Foods, said dealers and distributors have started increasing their inventory in the past five days. “The offtake from dealers and distributors has gone up by 20% to 25%. They are also getting themselves ready in case of any exigency,” he said.
Meanwhile, trade insiders said the prices of pulses are unlikely to rise, as fresh supplies are set to arrive in the market. The prices had gone up during the second wave last year.
Bimal Kothari, vice-chairman of the Indian Pulses and Grains Association, said the rabi crop comprising chickpea, masoor and yellow peas will start arriving in the market in the next month and a half. “There will be ample supply of pulses in the market and we do not see a rise in prices,” he said. “Also, the government has extended the deadline for free imports of moong, tur and urad till March 31, 2022.”
India consumes 25 million tonnes of this protein-rich food annually. Of this, 1-1.5 million tonnes are imported. The domestic market will remain stable, Kothari said. “So, there will be no upward price movement, nor will the prices be very low.”