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Re-Vamping The Commodities Sector With Tarun Sawhney

While routes are closed for the majority of sectors, the essentials have not stopped. Listen to Divya, dialogue with Tarun Sawhney, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Triveni Engineering and Industries Ltd. about how the commodities sector will boom or fail during COVID-19.


“India is the largest consumer of sugar. Last year it consumed almost 26 million tonnes of sugar.”

Is sugar still in production during the COVID-19 lockdown?

Yes. Tarun states that sugar is one of the larger businesses of Triveni, and the bi-products are utilised for creating electricity and alcohol-methanol. Fifty million farmers are involved in the production of sugar. During the lockdown, the production has continued and has dispatched to large consumptions centres across India.

Has the demand for essential commodities increased during COVID-19?

“Over the last six weeks, there has been a reduction in demand, as industrial customers meet 65 % of the demand – which has dropped.” These customers include food and beverage dealers like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, local sweet shops, biscuit manufacturers, and even pharmaceutical companies. Many of the big factories are not working, and most of the orders are coming in from local stores.

DR Pro Tip: The demand for FMC goods has gone down and will not be recovered quickly over the remainder of this fiscal year.

How has COVID affected the supply chain operation of essential commodities like sugar?

The movement of consumable items, chemicals, lubricants, and other essential items in production has been a challenge. The first week of lockdown was the hardest, since then systems have been put into place. The real partnership has been between the industry and the government, both state and central. Sugar currently is transported either by trucks or by special trains.

How is India exporting sugar during COVID-19?

India is the 4th largest exporter of sugar. Sugar being a bulky commodity usually gets exported on sea vessels either through containers or break-bulk (a kind of transportation cargo). Kandla, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, and Chennai are some primary ports that have opened up. The ports are working at 50-70% of their capacity while taking all precautions. The last two months due to COVID-19 will have a hard effect on the 2nd quarter of the year going forward.

FYI With DR: The government of India signed a pact with the government of Indonesia to export 200 thousand tonnes of sugar.

What reforms have you incorporated?

  • Contactless Delivery

A farmer on his way to deliver sugar cane doesn’t physically touch anything or anybody. They wear gloves and masks.

  • Digital Transformation

All payments and receipts come via SMS, even for farmers.

  • Mass Sanitiser Plant

Tarun states, they converted one of the large distilleries into a hand sanitiser plant within five days.

  • Generating Employment

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Triveni has generated employment for 250 people by diversifying to more essentials products like sanitisers.

Which sectors are seriously impacted due to COVID-19?

Entertainment, fashion, and textile sectors will be seriously impacted. Transportation and travel will change completely.

Check out our podcast on the retail sector here.

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