Following the panic surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bulk demand for masks, sanitisers and gloves have skyrocketed by over 300 per cent on leading online B2B platforms. At least one-fourth of these buyers are either new entrants or people trying to hoard such essentials for profiteering during the crisis.
Talking to Business Today, Sandip Chhettri, Chief Operating Officer of TradeIndia.com, the leading B2B platform for SME manufacturers and suppliers, said the portal received over 2,500 enquiries for bulk purchase of masks, sanitisers and gloves in the last 15 days, whereas enquiries for the same were only 3,000 in the 90 days prior. Most of such enquiries are for bulk ordering of minimum 10,000-15,000 masks, he said.
"Our analysis of the enquiry data reveals that at least 20-25 per cent of these customers are new or occasional traders, which makes us believe they are trying to hoard these essentials during the crisis to make a killing. Our feedback from the manufacturers is that prices of all kinds of masks have doubled at the retail level from Rs 10 to over Rs 20 and even hand-made masks are coming into the market", he said.
"At the Delhi airport, I bought a reusable imported mask for Rs 2,200, which claims to have 8-bit single valve, with particle filters and carbon filters," he added.
As reported, the country has about 22 large manufacturers of masks and coveralls with a capacity of 222.5 million pieces of three-layer masks per annum, 15.6 million two-layer masks per annum and 3.7 million pieces per annum of coveralls. These domestic manufacturers have a spare capacity to make an additional 55 million pieces per annum of three-layer masks and 7.2 million pieces per annum of two-layer masks. The 30 odd manufacturers of gloves have a capacity of 2 billion pieces, with 18 per cent spare capacity (300 million). Of the current production of 1.7 billion pieces, 44 per cent or 753 million pieces were exports.
He said the demand for hand sanitisers have also increased by about 50 per cent. The platform has some 230 SME makers of sanitisers and handwash and their entire raw material comes from China and Singapore. Following the crisis in China, the price of the raw material have increased by 500 per cent, as currently the raw material for sanitisers are sourced only from Singapore. "The manufacturers are saying it is impossible to sell the product at the currently labelled price", he said.
The Indian B2B SME online trade market, worth around Rs 20,000 crore and with 80,000 plus products, has only 3-4 major players. Of this TradeIndia.com is the leader with over Rs 35 per cent market share, said Sandip Chhettri.
Vishal Kaushik, Managing Director, Upakarma Ayurveda said his company has witnessed a 15 per cent hike in demand for medicinal herbs Shilajit and Ashwagandha, as these are believed to boost immunity.