The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector registered a 2.6 per cent growth during the January-March quarter in the eastern region which was under "maximum stress" in the period as compared to other zones, according to a data analytics company report.
The sector grew by 6.3 per cent during the first three months of the current calendar year in the country, and the growth was impacted in March with the initial effect of COVID-19 outbreak, the market insight firm Nielsen said in its note.
The FMCG sector had grown by 7 per cent during the last quarter of 2019, it said.
The FMCG sector includes non-durable household goods such as packaged food, beverages, toiletries and other consumables that are sold at a relatively low cost.
The slowdown was steeper in the urban markets compared to the rural markets, across the four zones, the report said.
"The slowdown in Q120 (January-March) was led by traditional trade channels while modern trade channel accelerated growth," it said.
The growth in the eastern zone during the period was the lowest while South India witnessed an expansion of 8.8 per cent, the highest among the four regions.
However, a closer look shows that the eastern region's growth was led by value while the southern states saw a sharp volume expansion, according to the report.
In the east, the value growth was at 2.2 per cent in the first quarter of the current calendar year, while the Southern region showed a volume expansion of 6.4 per cent.
The growth for the FMCG sector in north and west was 4.7 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
"Among the four zones of India, the east zone was under maximum stress in Q120 while the south zone continued to sustain growth. North and west zones stabilised after slowdown in previous quarters," the report said.
There were "distinct signs of recovery in January and February", which were considered as a pre-Covid period for the India market, according to the analysis.
"The industry clocked a growth of 7.5 per cent in January and February 20 (Pre-Covid). This growth was significantly impacted in March'20 with the initial effect of COVID-19 bringing it down to 4 per cent," it said,
This led to a slowdown in overall growth for the quarter, the report said.
Given the significant headwind built at the start of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Nielsen revises the full-year industry growth forecast for 2020 to 5-6 per cent.