Crop or food wastage is one of the most prevailing issues in the country caused by the inefficiency of accurate cold storages. However, the country is working towards development and is likely to invest 16,000-21,000 crore in the sector between 2019 and 2023. Mihir Mohanta, General Manager – SCM (SAFAL), Mother Dairy Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd having profound knowledge on FMCG, Cold Chain and Agri Supply chain shares with us the challenges of the sector, Future trends and much more.

What challenges does an FMCG company face while importing and exporting its products along with ensuring a seamless supply chain without any breakdown?

Food products imports and exports often face the challenges of regulation of the destination countries. The food laws and the quality standards of the exporting and importing countries vary in many cases. Therefore, it is imperative to check these before commercial shipments. It is better to clear these through the sample tests and sample consignments. The other challenge often faced is product shelf-life. Part of a product’s life is lost in transit. For short shelf-life products, the balance remaining life could be low. Such products are less preferred by consumers.

Cold Storage facilities in India are not up to the mark. In such a scenario, what day to day hurdles does it cause in perishable good’s supply chain? And how do you manage to overcome the hurdles?

75% of the cold storage capacity is single commodity. These are meant for only potato storage. So despite having cold stores you cannot store. The multi-commodity stores account for 23% of capacity. The cost of converting a single to multi-commodity is very high. So care needs to be taken in such a way that all future stores are multi-commodity stores.

Agility is the most important factor when dealing with a supply chain of perishable products. And, agility increases the cost of operating the supply chain so how supply chain could be optimized along with keeping the cost factor in control?

Agility is the response time or how quickly the service provider responds to it. The industry operates on technology. The latest technology operates on IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) these would reduce manual activities and also bring down the cost. Right and updated technology use can actually bring down the cost and offer much more efficient services.

Managing inventories are complex and the major peaks in demand and supply of products make it even more challenging. How does the implementation of technology help in striking the right balance in demand and supply?

Demand forecasting of sales in FMCG a consumer product is often a challenge. However, the use of tools and algorithms which take considerations of historical data, the predictions are much better than just the gut feels. The predictability improves with greater use of data. On the other hand, the supply side can be managed through distributive warehousing, manufacturing or assembly lines.

Union government has kept an ambitious target of doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022-23. According to you, what role can Agri Supply Chain play in increasing farmers’ income?

Agri supply chain has to support in the three ways given below, to improve farmer’s income:

  1. Improve efficiency in the supply chain so that farmers share in consumers’ pie improves.
  2. Increase the productivity i.e. yields per acre to be doubled through the use of seed & crop production technology.
  3. Improve the reach of supply chain infrastructure to the last of the farmer in the queue.

Operating the supply chain of an FMCG brand is undoubtedly a challenging task. Could you tell us one such incident when
the supply chain has gone haywire and jugaad worked to operate the supply chain?

There is plenty of jugaad in the Indian context which beats technologically superior supply chain like ‘traditional parwal transportation’ in wet trucks. Parwal is not transported in cold chain but in ambient conditions. Yet, it manages temperature and humidity with a water cooler effect without any use of power.

You are a seasoned supply chain professional having two decade-plus industry experience. So according to you, which new trends are expected to dominate the supply chain game in the coming year or decade?

Today’s supply unit is a truckload. The future will see even miniature boxes being transferred with the same or better precision. Transportation of perishable products in controlled atmosphere will improve drastically. Masses will avail of the supply chain services and not just the agents.