25 September, 2021

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Pandemic In Sri Lanka: Supply Chain Management & Marketing

By Nalin Abeysekera

Prof. Nalin Abeysekera

Even though  Sri Lanka Expected to have a positive economic outlook in the year 2021, still, it is in the bad shape with the ongoing third wave of Covid-19. As per World Bank “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka’s economy contracted by 3.6 percent in 2020, the worst growth performance on record, as is the case in many countries fighting the pandemic”. The economic consequence of the corona pandemic is always unpredictable. There are many challenges for any nation and how you convert that into an opportunity is critical. In this context, we should always concern about the role play by Supply Chain Management and Marketing.

Synergetic effect of Marketing and Supply Chain Management

It can be seen that the concepts of marketing and supply chain management were elaborated in different forums separately. Nevertheless, these two concepts look like twin brothers. According to Linton (2019) Marketing delivers an essential balance in supply chain management which supports businesses and their associates to become more focused on customers rather than on the production process. “By improving communications, support and collaboration, marketing helps increase supply chain efficiency and create a single extended enterprise with a strong competitive edge(Linton,2019). Hence it can be observed the synergistic effect of Marketing and Supply chain. In this scenario “Value co-creation” is paramount important. Value co-creation generally refers to the mechanisms of interplay and collaboration between service providers and customers resulting in experienced value for the parties(Grönroos et al, 2015). Value co-creation is the business cooperation strategy that the firms in the supply chain are beginning to attempt. On the one hand, value co-creation is conducive to deep collaborations between upstream and downstream firms in the supply chain (Lacoste, 2016). Many experts in the globe discussing The S-D logic or service-dominant logic align with Value co-creation. As per IGI global “Service-Dominant logic is a perspective that introduces a new way for synthesizing and articulating an alternative view of exchange and value creation in markets. It is centered on the idea service—the application of competencies for the benefit of another—is the basis of all social and economic exchange”. It is important to see how supply chain and marketing play an important role in Sri Lankan context in the case of distribution of food and vegetables.

Sri Lanka: Supply Chain Management and Marketing

We can see many experts  talking about the problem which farmers who cannot sell their products and distributing vegetables and fruits to the consumer in different areas. We can remember, one report said that More than 900,000 kilos of vegetables have been purchased by the government last year. Some seasons you can see excess vegetables like pumpkin which farmers are really finding it difficult to sell their products. This is not an exceptional case in corona time and we have witnessed the same problem for decades.In one way you need to argue that we should have proper value additions as well as marketing strategies for the products. Anyway, there is a problem with having an updated food balance sheet for Sri Lanka. And also, it is important to note that “ 550,000 metric tons of vegetables and fruits were being wasted a year due to the post-harvest damage and its loss to the nation amounted to over Rs. 67 billion(Daily Mirror,28th August 2019)”. So there is a  requirement for a proper supply chain and an efficient national plan on this.

Anyway, It can be proposed to have integrated  plan of Supply chain and Marketing. We can see the above-mentioned factors such as food waste, problem in transport etc being discussed in completely different forums, But both can be considered as the flip side of the same coin. People in the country should be educated on the nutrition value of vegetables, fruits, and all food items which are produced in Sri Lanka. Then you can expect a greater demand align with “be Sri Lankan buy Sri Lankan“ tag line(which has been already established in Sri Lanka). Sri Lanka imports some products which considerably affecting the balance of payment of the country with no real nutrition value. This you can compare with some substitutes produced in our home soil.

So There is a need for experts in the country to;

1.  Educate people on the nutrition value of vegetables, fruits and all food items which is produced in Sri Lanka and see possibilities to grow some import substitutes in the country with properly integrated marketing communication activities (IMC) – (this is all about awareness and Marketing)

2. To have better supply chain management in food in Sri Lanka (especially vegetables and fruits)

And also you need to have proper association between all factors with a newly established institution. (refer below for a diagram)

Conclusion

There should be better alignment between the food habits and demand of people in this country (in other words can be linked to Marketing and awareness) and the Supply chain of food. Even we can propose having a government institution manage this with different stakeholders and experts from food, supply chain, nutrition, Strategy, Marketing, Finance and economy representing the public and private sectors. If you really want to concern about the sustainable growth of the country this is the time for you to have your own reflections and better strategies aligning with Marketing and supply chain management .

*This article is  based on the speech made on the invitation made by the Institute Of Supply and Materials Management for a Quarterly Seminar for GDPSCM. The writer is a Professor in Management Studies at the Open University of Sri Lanka. You can reach him on nalinabeysekera@gmail.com

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