People may rightly see India as an alternative to China for business
Marakez Trading Company is the fastest growing FMCG DISTRIBUTION company in Qatar, focused on sourcing quality products from across the world at competitive prices to satisfy the ever increasing demand of consumers in Doha, covering all trade channels such as Modern trade, lower trade, wholesale and Horeca. It has been an ardent importer of staples from India.
In a conversation with IndusFood, Mr. Nabeel TK, Head of Procurement & Logistics, Marakez Trading Company shares his recent & near-future-procurement plans from India, which is a major focus market. Besides importing Basmati Rice from India, Marakez, which is an appointed distributor of Sainsbury’s (a major retail chain in London with almost 1500 retail outlets) in Qatar, is also eager to import more consumer products.
IndusFood: What is the expected impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global F&B industry as a whole?
Mr. Nabeel TK: In the hospitality sector, I foresee that there will be challenges soaring for another 5-6 months. Also, people will develop a tendency to double check each product/service for its quality.
As far as FMCG product distribution is concerned, the industry would not be affected much, but yes, consumer behavior will change significantly. Perhaps, now consumers would prefer e-commerce over retail outlets. Food & Beverage would be a sustainable business, I believe. Nevertheless, people will tend to compromise on luxurious services. The non-essential industry is definitely going to have a struggling period. Thus, a new world order is expected as an aftermath of Covid.
IndusFood: Are you looking to increase your online business as well?
NTK: The Covid-19 pandemic is driving e-commerce upward big-time. We have already been promoting our sales through our online platforms so as to support our products distribution. Because of the corona pandemic, we also see a surge in demand for products on our online platforms. However, I am skeptical about this trend existing for long.
Temporarily, there is hike in the online business; around 20-25 % of business is happening through online channels. Also, I believe, once the situation is under normal, people here will retain the real shopping experience.
IndusFood: How has the entire Covid situation worked for you?
NTK: It has actually benefited us as due to the pandemic, people started piling up on stocks. At least for a temporary period, we had an increase in the business, but we have to be patient and observant to see what will be the scenario in the days to come.
IndusFood: How are you managing the sudden surge in demand and delay in delivery?
NTK: The major challenge lies in shipments. For example, I am importing around 25-30 containers of food products from India other than the orders through Gov tender. I am also importing a variety of food stuffs from India other than the Basmati Rice. The curbed movement in the port areas is derailing our supply chain, but we are managing somehow.
However, as Qatar is a supplier dominated market, these delays are not playing much role. Today, we have shipments in pipeline almost from 10 countries.
IndusFood: What are your recent and upcoming procurement plans from India in particular?
NTK: In 2018-19, we procured 32K metric tonnes of rice from Jindal Industries based in Fatehabad, India. It was an 8-month supply. This year year we have already started supplying 20K tonnes of rice which is equivalent to 500K bags of 40Kg steamed basmati rice.
We also have plans to procure 48k tonnes under a public tender by the Gov and will supply for a year. We are looking at this opportunity very eagerly and hopefully we shall be on it.
From India, the staple commodities are very much in demand, especially in Qatar. In fact, we procure major chunk of our rice, pulses, sugar etc. from India. Other consumer products can also be bought in. We are already importing many products from India.
Moreover, the essential food category in consumer products has great potential. We are always ready to tap the opportunity to procure such products from any potential exporter from India. Needless to say, as a country, India has huge potential. People may rightly see India as an alternative to China for business.
IndusFood: How do you see IndusFood as a growth platform?
NTK: IndusFood is really a good move by Indian government. Such platforms are very relevant in the present F&B space. I believe the world will settle down soon and I shall be looking forward to join IndusFood 2021.