2 Japanese food makers in India resume production amid lockdown
By Yukiko Amano
NEW DELHI, NNA - Japanese rice cracker giant Kameda Seika Co. and processed tomato products maker Kagome Co. have partially resumed production in India amid a nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Kameda Seika restarted output on a limited scale at its plant after a suspension of nearly one month in the wake of the lockdown on March 25.
Kagome now operates its Indian plant only two days a week, according to company officials.
A Kameda joint venture, Daawat-Kameda (India) Pvt. Ltd., produces its signature Kaki No Tane snack with local flavors under the new brand Kari Kari at its Sonipat plant in the northern state of Haryana.
The local unit temporarily suspended production despite the fact that its products are categorized as essential food items during the lockdown till May 3. It recently got the nod from local authorities to continue factory operations, director Jun Kono told NNA.
In a bid to prevent workers from contracting the deadly virus, Daawat-Kameda lets only half of them work at the factory and has "drastically reduced" output, Kono said.
Kameda established Daawat-Kameda with leading Indian rice product conglomerate LT Foods Ltd. and started production last November.
But the virus scare has forced the Japanese firm to review its sales network expansion strategy. It is selling Kari Kari brand snacks only in Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai and Bengalure, compared with an initial target of 13 cities by the end of March.
Kagome Foods India Pvt. Ltd., which had halted its plant in Nashik in the western state of Maharashtra due to the lockdown, was allowed to resume operations from this week on condition that up to only seven factory workers can engage in production, a Kagome spokesman in Tokyo told NNA.
The limited operations are trimming normal daily output by half, the spokesman said.
Prolonged travel curbs and radically scaled-down economic activities are depressing demand. "There is little demand from our major clients like hotels, restaurants and catering businesses because they have yet to reopen," the spokesman added. (NNA/Kyodo)