Etika’s Khalid says panic buying is definitely something that changed the company’s course naturally when the MCO was 1st implemented
by LYDIA NATHAN
THE Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted and impacted the exchange of goods globally as companies continue to strive to mitigate the crisis while meeting the increasing demand from consumers who are mainly working from home.
Etika Sdn Bhd, one of the many companies that are dealing with the consumers directly, is doing exactly that.
The company currently markets and distributes some of PepsiCo’s brands, such as Pepsi, Tropicana, Mountain Dew, Revive Isotonic, Mirinda, 7UP, Lipton Ice Tea, MUG, Gatorade, Sting and Kickapoo, as well as its own range of products like WONDA Coffee, Goodday Milk, Calpis, Dairy Champ, Chill Asian Drinks and Bleu.
Etika supplies the products to hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores, provision shops and to restaurants, as well as food and beverage (F&B) outlets.
Its CEO for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Khalid Alvi, said panic buying was definitely something that changed the company’s course naturally when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was first implemented.
“The team saw many changes in consumer behaviour, particularly a sudden surge in demand as consumers were not sure of a continuous supply of beverages.
“Despite this sudden change, we have always been ready for this sort of thing and had a crisis ready plan to be implemented,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.
As a result, Khalid said the company has been able to maximise and optimise manufacturing in order to meet demands and deliver on time.
“Another way we have taken this new norm on board is by keeping close contact with government authorities to ensure proper approvals and to stay updated with best practices for hygiene,” he said.
He added that this is particularly important in distribution and logistics, in order to have a minimal to zero disruption in the supply chain.
Obtaining letters of approvals from relevant government agencies like the Ministry of International Trade and Industry is also vital in smoothing out the process for deliveries.
Khalid said prior to the virus outbreak, the company had a normal supply chain while manufacturing was planned as usual with predictable demands.
However, priorities for the team have changed.
“We now have to understand new demand patterns by package and category, which is slightly different from our usual business protocols. Stock level managing is also a top priority right now to ensure we don’t run out and are at optimal stages,” Khalid said.
He said retail partners also need to be supported to jointly facilitate the situation now, and meet both new and old demands.
According to Khalid, one significant change was adapting to the work from home challenge by leveraging the use of several different platforms that help the team work and collaborate virtually. “We have also been sharing relevant content and productivity tips with our employees and have asked team leaders to organise fun activities like pop-up quiz for employees to take part in, so they continue to feel a sense of togetherness.
“Our efforts include internal Instagram contests, a standard guideline on how to work productively from home, tips to keep our employees’ body defence system in form, easy workouts at home and staying healthy and fit in general,” Khalid added.
Company employees are regularly checked up on at home, to ensure the good psychical and mental health of employees are being maintained.
However, Khalid said there were employees that are required to be out and about, particularly the logistics team.
“We have adapted to extremely stringent measures to ensure their safety, including the right use of personal protective equipment. We are trying to carry out the same task with a minimum number of people involved, so we are able to comply with the government’s social distancing measure,” he said.
He added that those working in manufacturing units undergo a high level of sanitary standards, including body temperature tests, passing through turnstiles with a disinfect foot pad, spraying the whole body with disinfectant alcohol and replacing face masks twice a day.
Unsurprisingly enough, panic buying all over the world has increased the risks of counterfeit products.
Khalid said the surge for products spurred a balance between market’s supply and demand despite continuous assurances from authorities that there were adequate supplies for food.
“For example, a European consultancy firm specialising in crisis management called RQA Group said panic buying is good for counterfeiters as people will purchase products at higher prices from non-standard retail outlets, including e-commerce platforms.
“This can be a huge problem for F&B operators as we handle consumables that have direct effects on your body, it can be dangerous if consumers are not careful when purchasing these products.
“This is why it’s important that consumers remain calm and practise to buy supplies responsibly in order to ensure that we have enough for everyone,” he added.
Meanwhile, Khalid said Etika has always strived to be a part of the community, and since the MCO was announced, the ETIKA Cares campaign was introduced to support frontliners and local businesses.
“The company also came up with novelty tactics to keep consumers entertained at home, like the #WONDADiRumah first ever seven-day concert which was a collaboration with Astro Ria.
“Etika has also distributed some 50,000 units of mixed beverages to more than 10,000 healthcare workers in hospitals across the Klang Valley.
“An initiative to deliver about 4,800 beverages and dairy products to 1,500 B40 (bottom 40% income group) families and 40,000 university students nationwide was also conducted, as well as to quarantine centres,” Khalid said.
He added that an ongoing effort is a beverage drive around the Klang Valley delivering refreshing drinks to police, armed forces, RELA officers and other public volunteers manning road blocks in the city.