Coronavirus-hit India stocks up on preventive items, suppliers struggle

With the increase in the cases of coronavirus, demand for products like sanitizers and masks has intensified in India. Suppliers are struggling to keep up with the pace of demand increase. According to the data shared by B2B firms, the sale of preventive products has increased between 100%.

As of March 15th, there were over 110 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the country. In India, according to All Food and Drug Licence Holders Foundation, sales for face masks have doubled to over 1.2 million in February from the usual monthly average of around 660,000.

“We had adequate stocks of N95 masks when the air quality deteriorated in Delhi late last year, but no one saw Covid-19 coming. We’re bound to run out of stock as the virus scare and the demand for masks increases by the hour,” said Vikas Bagaria, founder of PeeSafe.

This concern for shortage has brought in non-registered retailers selling masks to customers at exaggerated prices. For example, N95 mask, which costs Rs. 150 is being sold for up to Rs. 500 in the market by some pharmacy stores. On March 4, India’s health minister Harsh Vardhan also alerted the venders against overpricing.

However, in the near future, manufacturers might not have another option other than inflating the prices for these products. According to a statement by Dhindsa of Grofers, increase in demand for sanitation products has increased the cost of elements used in sanitizers which has put the manufacturing under compression and which is why the prices of these products are likely to boost.

To match the increasing demand, the country’s fast-moving consumer goods companies are eyeballing to increase production. Sunil Kataria, CEO at Mumbai-based firm Godrej, says, “We have ramped up production of Godrej Protekt hand wash and sanitisers in our units as well as through our vendor partner units.”

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