THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: According to consumers, Supplyco outlets, which provide essential commodities at a subsidised rate for consumers, are running out of items. The prices of pulses, coconut oil and other fast-moving essential commodities have gone up recently. The unavailability of items at various outlets of Supplyco including Maveli stores, Hypermarkets, Super Maveli stores and People’s Bazar, has been attributed to the distribution of free food kits.Ever since the launch of the free food kit scheme, a majority of the popular Sabari products have vanished from the shelves of Supplyco outlets. According to consumer rights activists, it is pointless to distribute food kits without making commodities available at outlets as the former will not suffice.
Confra Consumer Forum general secretary M Sashidharan Nair said the state government and political parties are ignoring the price rise of essential commodities. The Centre has quashed the Essential Commodities Act leaving consumers at the receiving end. “The prices of essential commodities are increasing, yet there are no effective interventions on the same. The cost of coconut oil was hiked by C20 last week,” said Sashidharan. “The outlets are functioning like run-of-the-mill supermarkets as subsidised items are unavailable,” he added.
However, regional manager of Supplyco Jayaprakash V said the consumer base of Supplyco has increased exponentially post the pandemic outbreak and there is no scarcity of items at the stores as alleged. He stressed that sales at the outlets have been normal since December. In January 2021, the Supplyco outlets sold subsidised items worth C6.89 crore and non-subsidised items worth C39.85 crore.
There are around eight depots under the Thiruvananthapuram region -- Thiruvananthapuram city, Nedumangad, Neyyattinkara, Attingal, Kollam, Karunagappally, Kottarakkara and Punalur. “Like other sectors, we also faced a slowdown during the pandemic. Earlier, we used to have only 25 per cent of the present consumers. There has been a shift in the consumer base. We are trying to meet the growing demand and simultaneously manage free kit distribution,” said Jayaprakash.
According to officials of Supplyco, the stocks are re-filled twice or thrice at every outlet. “Currently, information on stock updates spreads like wildfire and people throng the outlets. Fast-moving products get sold out soon. The next stock update happens only after a few days,” he added. Supplyco had sold C46.92 lakh worth of Sabari coconut oil at subsidised rate and C39.85 crore at non-subsidised rate in January.