Over 500 local producers to benefit | Daily News
Import restrictions

Over 500 local producers to benefit

Head of Retail Charitha Subasinghe
Head of Retail Charitha Subasinghe

Keells is currently looking for local manufacturers of popular products that are no longer available due to import restrictions.There are between 500-600 products that have been identified.

Head of Keells Retail Charitha Subasinghe said, “There are 500-600 products that have gone off the shelf because of import restrictions. We are still not covered by the local FMCG producers.”Subasinghe was speaking to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on their webinar ‘Trends shaping the FMCG industry’ held virtually on January 26.

Subasinghe said, “retailers are looking for manufacturers to fill in the gap.” Subasinghe noted that before the pandemic there were highly specialised supply chains producing goods but not that those had been disrupted there was scope for local manufacturing to take place.

Consumer choices have changed due to the pandemic. There is more demand for health-conscious and safety-focused goods. People are also changing their shopping habits focusing more on online and convenience-based locations. Keells Super, a supermarket chain under Keells Retail used to have less than 100 orders a day on their online platform.

During the pandemic, this increased to over 10,000 a day. Even after lockdown has been lifted the site averages 3000 orders a day. Factor Manager Unilever Damith Abeyratne noted that the pandemic had changed the nature of demand in the economy. Unilever used historical data to forecast demand in the economy. With the advent of lockdowns, demand patterns have changed drastically placing considerable strain on the manufacturing and distribution processes of the company.

Each lockdown brings with it a spike in demand for hygiene products like soap and sanitiser. Unilever has had to shorten lead times and produce goods more dynamically. This provides fewer economies of scale for the company and is complicated for factories that produce over 200-300 different items. Factories have had to distance staff and re-invent processes to keep in line with best practices for the prevention of COVID-19 spread. Abeyratne noted that it was possible to have completely automated production processes.

Costs have also increased with the need to stock-pile imported input material and secure supply chains with locally manufactured products. The industry expects price rises shortly. Head of Regulation Nestle Chalindra Pathirana noted that the industry expected new regulation on labelling of nutritional data.

The industry expects further regulation on colour coding for sugar, salt, and fat content. The industry expects cost increases associated with compliance.