(Yicai Global) Feb. 20 -- Arawana is looking to its employees' family members to help out China's largest flour producer amid a surge in demand caused by people cooking more wheat-based foods at home as they shelter from the coronavirus epidemic.
Some staff can't get back to work, according to Xin Hongbo, assistant general manager at the Jiangsu Kunshan plant of Yihai Kerry Investment, which owns the Arawana brand. So the plant has arranged for its office workers to man production lines and roped in as many as 40 relatives of local employees to help with packaging, he told Yicai Global.
Coupled with assistance from dealers, the plant is expected to reach full production capacity soon -- 1,800 tons of wheat a day -- ensuring supplies to Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces as well as Shanghai. It has restored about 70 percent so far.
Restaurants and eateries have closed amid the virus outbreak that coincided with the Chinese New Year holiday, so consumers need to cook more at home. Flour, which has become a hot seller, is now in short supply.
Arawana's Kunshan plant provides about 300 tons of flour a day to Shanghai, and demand has recently spiked to more than 400 tons with most of the increase being flour in small packages that consumers use to make steamed buns and steamed stuffed buns, according to Yihai Kerry.
Sales of electric appliances to make bread and steamed buns have more than doubled since Jan. 18 compared with the same period last year, while sales of noodle makers soared 63 percent, and those of electric ovens which can make cakes climbed 46 percent, per sales data from JD.Com.
A lack of peripherals such as cartons and non-woven bags has constrained the supply of flour. Many packaging material makers also face difficulty getting back to work because of staff shortages. A dearth of manpower to ship products has also hit the timely and sufficient supply of flour.
Editor: Peter Thomas