An onslaught of harassment and seizure operations under the Storage Control Order has forced India’s edible oil industry to plead to the government to exempt domestic edible oils from the ambit of stock limit orders. Amid the lockdown, the government had imposed stock limit on oils under the Storage Control Order, 1977.
The trade body, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) on Monday wrote to the Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India, underlining the challenges faced by the industry because of the said order. “The Storage Control Order exempts imported edible oils while it is applicable for domestic edible oils and is imposed on manufacturers and traders,” SEA highlighted in its letter.
Further, imported crude vegetable oils, when sold in domestic market after refining, are treated as domestic oil by the State Rationing Officers. This leads to imposition of Storage Control Order on these quantities of the edible oils as well, which are originally under imported category and are exempted.
This, according to SEA, “leads to harassment and seizure of oil. We have been making fervent appeal and representations to the government that in current situation Storage Control Order has become irrelevant and lost its utility and are requesting to exempt the domestic edible oils from the purview of stock limit.”
As it is, edible oil players are finding it difficult to reach consumers at the retail level, despite the uninterrupted production of packaged cooking oil, From not enough workers to pick up stock from distributors and transport grinding to a halt to dearth of packaging material, several factors have contributed to the essential commodity not reaching retail store shelves, forcing consumers to buy inferior variants. Only 25-30 per cent retailers are being reached. While issues around supply chain from factory to the distributor have been addressed, distributors are still short of adequate labourers to take the product to the retail stores. Moreover, several retailers are also not opening stores. The ones that do quickly down shutters during the day. The situation is much worse in smeller town and villages.