How big is the Philippine poultry industry?
Would Filipinos ever run out of chicken to make tinola? Will his favorite meat part be always available to barbecue or turn into adobo?
The Philippines has well-attained self-sufficiency in poultry, a prolific producer of poultry products. About 800 million broilers are produced annually and in spite of rising population, the country’s supply continues to meet consumer demands. Even restaurants and those who are in the food business have steady flow.
Cutting edge technology, employed by visionaries in the poultry industry, has boosted our production rate. Modernization has even made us the new darling in the region.
Four years back, the Philippines surprised everyone by winning Asia’s most prestigious award in “Livestock Asia,” the Oscars of the industry held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Named Asia’s best in the biggest gathering of livestock, egg and meat producers, Bounty Fresh Chicken won the top prize and became the first Philippine brand to be awarded such an honor.
On its route to winning the major title, it swept all categories: Technological Excellence, Food Safety, Marketing Excellence and Industry Leadership.
Barely 17 years in the business, Bounty Fresh has achieved so much that it is now one of the country’s leading and fastest growing broiler integrators. As a newbie, who would have thought that it would upstage Asia’s leading and world-renowned poultry and livestock companies based in the region?
If you ask Ronald Mascarinas, president, general manager and CEO of Bounty Fresh Group Agro Ventures Inc., the answer is really simple.
“When you have defined roles, the results come fast. When you are given the leeway to execute defined goals, the growth accelerates faster. And when you have state-of-the-art equipment and modern technology backing you up, you become the fastest growing,” he says.
Mascarinas owes it to the Bounty group of companies chair Tennyson Chen and the firm’s Board for providing his team the vision and believing in them to execute that vision. “They gave us enough freedom, we gave results in return,” he says.
Mascarinas is an industry maverick and a turnaround man, branded for good reasons, a staunch believer that for a newcomer to succeed, one has to study carefully how to deliberately “change the rules of the game” to gain advantage over entrenched players.
Prior to Bounty Agro, Mascarinas successfully attained dominant market leadership for a chicken hotdog brand within a year from launching. He introduced imported mechanically deboned meat in the Philippines for hotdog production and quickly turned around a long unprofitable brand in just two months.
His game changing mantra extended to the chicken popcorn market, innovating packaging materials and wresting market leadership within a year.
His latest achievement is gaining market leadership in the roasted chicken business. So dominant is Chooks-To-Go now that the brand’s sales volume is higher than the combined volumes of three former market leaders.
After five years, the brand has close to 1,000 stores throughout the Philippines.
Chooks-To-Go was also part of Mascarinas’ game changing moves. A product of the country’s premier agri-business and business management institutions, Inquirer BusinessFriday interviews the man who knows the nuts and bolts of the Philippine poultry industry.
BF: How big is the Philippine poultry industry?
RM: P100-billion industry producing about 800 million broilers per year.
BF: Is it big enough to sustain the demand?
RM: The country is self-sufficient. Annual imports of over 100 million kilograms of deboned meat mainly used for hotdog production and some leg quarter imports by the fast food chains.
BF: Were there ever shortages of supply?
RM: There are exceptional years. Seasonal shortages of chicken come usually in December and when there are massive typhoons or if the industry is affected by feed quality problems that cause poor growth and sometimes lower livability.
BF: How different is it now compared to 20 years ago?
RM: Attaining world-class efficiency and quick adoption of cutting edge technology is a must. Otherwise imported chicken will quickly take over domestic supply. Tariff protection for inefficient producers has largely been dismantled and will eventually disappear.
BF: How is the government supporting it?
RM: The government has largely been responsive in providing the infrastructure and environment for local players to be competitive with imported chicken. But this is basically a “swim or sink” situation. There is no room for an inefficient player. The Filipino consumer always becomes the victim of any protectionist stance by the government, as it will be forced to buy expensive local chicken. The government stance has pushed us to modernize and always be at the cutting edge of technology to earn our place in the business.
BF: Biggest challenges?
RM: Constant squeeze on margins as global prices of grains like soybean, corn and wheat, which are important component of feeds, have skyrocketed over the years. Bio-fuel production is now competing with the animal industry for raw materials like corn, soybeans and even vegetable oil like palm and coconut oil.
The industry cannot pass on to consumers the increase in cost because we are competing not only with imported substitutes (traders always lurking for opportunities to bring in imported chicken) but also with other protein substitutes like pork, fish and even vegetables.
We need to be competitive not only against imported chicken but also against other protein substitutes.
BF: Who is Ronald Mascarinas and what is your style of management?
RM: I finished Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in UP Los Baños, awarded Most Distinguished alumnus for Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship, took master’s in Management at the Asian Institute of Management, past president of the Philippine Association of Broiler Integrators and lectures in various industry associations and graduate schools of management, nominated by Superbrands this year, as one of the Philippines’ Most Outstanding Professionals for his contribution to the poultry industry.
I firmly believe that “speed and quality of execution” will always defeat a superior business strategy. I constantly remind my management team to always assume that competition has a better business strategy at any given time despite our intense efforts in strategizing and planning activities.
I always tell my team that we should always organize for speed and endure the oftentimes boring process of repetitive training—to ensure that quality of execution will always be unmatched. To gain dominance, for example, we organized to open two new stores every single day for one year. It was as if a speeding training were passing by and the industry can just watch. The move was a game changer as well for the organization.
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