Feedmill firm logs growth amidst pandemic, ASF outbreaks
MANILA, Philippines — Listed Vitarich Corp. was still able to log growth in its operations last year despite the coronavirus pandemic and the series of African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks.
The company reported that the growth in its operations is owing to the innovation implemented by the company to adapt to the present situation.
“We tightened our belt extra hard and had to innovate, and tap new markets. We improved our supply chain and distribution network. One good thing is that our size allowed us to be flexible. Our corporate rehabilitation experience greatly helped us adapt to the crisis,” Ricardo Manuel M. Sarmiento, CEO and President of Vitarich Corporation, said.
“Let me also make this final appeal to our people. Buy local. When you buy local, we are able to continue to support each other in this pandemic and you provide livelihood to the farmers and other businesses in the local supply chain,” Sarmiento concluded.
With COVID-19 restrictions, there has been temporary closure of food establishments. Institutional buyers from the hotel and restaurant segments account for 30 percent of the local poultry market. Sarmiento admitted that the company faced a difficult year because the hotel, restaurant, and institution clientele drastically cut their demand due to the lockdown.
When asked about future prospects considering the recent lockdowns and the continuing COVID pandemic, Sarmiento answered that, “It will continue to be difficult and challenging, but we hope to be a beacon of hope in these trying times.”
Vitarich’s businesses cut across food, feeds, and farms. It recorded declines in the food and farm segments as chicken prices went down because of the pandemic.
For feeds, sales increased by 4 percent as hog raisers from Visayas and Mindanao beef up feed demand despite the spread of ASF. Tie-up programs in Luzon and Mindanao regions also contributed to the sales.
All told, Vitarich said that the firm’s strong performance in the first quarter cushioned the net losses during the second and third quarters of 2020, or when the government began to implement the strings of lockdowns to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Chicken and egg prices are expected to remain low as hog raisers who are wary of ASF switch to raising poultry.
“We are thankful to our business partners. We value our lifetime profitable partnership. The key is to take care also of our employees, by implementing measures to make sure they are safe if they need to go to the office or the field. Strict adherence to protocol is mandated. Also, we trust them enough to be productive working from home. So far, our COVID numbers have been minimal considering our operations nationwide. We already ordered vaccines for all employees, and are just waiting for their arrival in June or July. However, I told everyone to get the vaccine whenever or wherever they can. We all have the common goal of surviving this together,” Sarmiento emphasized.
“I cannot also forget our suppliers who have done their best in keeping our supply chain afloat. We are also grateful to the government for listening to our words of caution and keeping our chicken industry avian flu-free,” said the thankful CEO.
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