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Covid-19 lockdown has created differentiators for the edible oil sector in the country. Gemini Edibles & Fats India Pvt Ltd (GEF India) the makers of Freedom brand of oils are learning to scale the market in the present scenario and getting used to the new normal. Due to lock down the company is not able to realize the full potential of plants as the labour situation is volatile and local sentiments are changing. The overall impact is flat and despite a positive demand Freedom Oil is not able to realize the same.
According to Mr. P Chandra Shekhara Reddy, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils, "GEF India caters to 3 categories: Hotels / Institutions followed by Industry (bakery, packaged fast-food and snacks) and Home segment. Hotels / Institutions, Weddings, and Events are on a standstill due to COVID-19 lockdown resulting in a 50% reduction in demand for the Palm oil. However, this is compensated to some extent by a 20% increase in the demand for Sunflower Oil which is primarily consumed in households, particularly in AP, Telangana, Karnataka & Odisha. Edible oil is an essential commodity, so the supply cannot be disrupted. It is our social responsibility to maintain the supply of Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils, in all the geographies that we operate – during the lockdown. To ensure the same, we got the required approvals with the support of local state and district administration. We have all the permissions facilitating the transportation of packed oil from our plant to various distribution points and the end-users."
Mr. Reddy further added, "The refining unit has been operating, to ensure the continuous availability of Freedom Oils for the consumers. We ensure all guidelines regarding hand sensitization, frequent disinfecting the premises, social distancing, temperature verification of employees who come to work and personal hygiene is being maintained at the Plant. We are also educating the channel partners about the same and motivating them to ensure that there is no shortage of stock at the point of purchase. Due to COVID-19 lockdown, we are not able to realize the full potential of plants as the labour situation is volatile and local sentiments are changing. Although the State Government & the local administration has been helping us sort the labour issues and other operational challenges, we are operating at around 70% capacity."
GEF India has 3 plants, 2 in Kakinada, and 1 in Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils are present in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Karnataka, Chattisgarh & Tamil Nadu ( Bulk). The company has a production capacity of Sunflower Oil: 35,000 Tonnes per month. GEF India has recently set up a new plant in Kakinada with a capacity of 1200 tonnes per day which is in addition to their plant in Kakinada with a capacity of 350 tonnes per day and Krishnapatnam: 900 tonnes per day. The newly automated plant is fully functional with the latest technology and infrastructure.
The company, as a part of its CSR initiative, has contributed a total of Rs. 2.25 Crore towards COVID 19 relief for communities where they operate which includes PM CARES Fund: Rs. 50 Lakhs followed by CM Relief Fund (Telangana & Andhra Pradesh): Rs. 50 Lakhs each, CM Relief Fund (Karnataka, Odisha & Tamil Nadu): Rs. 25 Lakhs each. The company also partnered with the Government of Andhra Pradesh to distribute the essential commodity – edible oil and food items worth Rs. 40 Lakhs to the underprivileged near the GEF refineries in AP.