All hail the mighty Primaduck
Most Filipinos mainly turn to chicken, pork, beef or fish for their protein needs.
But if the EDL Group will have its way, duck will be added to these choices and have a greater presence in everyday meals. Duck meat, after all, is darker, juicier and tastier than that of chicken, albeit more expensive.
It is this firm belief in the great market potential of duck meat that pushed the EDL Group, a conglomerate engaged in marketing and distribution, veterinary products manufacturing, animal breeding and organic food production, to invest heavily four years ago in a 33-hectare complex in Capas, Tarlac, with the intention to produce, among others, a line of duck-based, chef-approved products including the prized Peking duck that is a staple in Chinese restaurants.
EDL Group COO Eulo Lorenzo said his father—group founder Dr. Eulalio Lorenzo—was also encouraged to invest in the duck industry by the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines.
These Chinese workers, the Filipino-Chinese community and Filipinos who are familiar with Chinese food presented an untapped market, more so as there are only about three local producers of top quality duck meat.
Leveraging on its decades of experience in agriculture, it developed its own expertise in duck farming to the point that it was able to supply the needs of top local restaurants and hotels serving duck dishes, especially the Peking duck.
The EDL Group has been able to meet the demands of exacting chefs as the top breed ducks are raised in state-of-the art facilities that comply with strict biosecurity measures and supervised by consultants and breeders from France and Belgium, assuring them of high quality.
To widen the market, the elder Lorenzo decided to have the ducks under the Primaduck brand—developed under EDL Agritourism—available through his casual dining restaurant in Greenhills, San Juan, called Yong-A Oriental Roast Duck and Roasted Duck Express.
Dishes there were developed with the help of a Chinese roast duck expert based in China, who in turn trained the local chefs.
“This was another opportunity to serve roasted duck lovers, by providing farm-fresh, locally-produced and world-class Peking duck meat, cooked properly the Cantonese way,” Lorenzo said.
Aside from roasted duck, Primaduck, which was also launched four years ago, developed duck-based tocino, tapa, longganisa and other frozen products to penetrate Filipino homes.
“We spent literally thousands of hours and sleepless nights in our R&D activities. Food safety is paramount, so there was an in-house food technician that was supervising all the research and development. Competent and experienced chefs, and the owners were all part of the team that ensured the taste and quality of the products,” Lorenzo said.
The Primaduck brand had already started making serious inroads in 2020 when the pandemic struck, and like most other companies, it was badly affected with sales plummeting with the
imposition of sweeping quarantine controls.
“We were affected by the pandemic, just like the other businesses in the food and beverage and hospitality industries. Restaurants that we supplied to either stopped or ordered less. Most of them offered buffets, so the lockdowns affected their operations, and in turn, our business with them,” Lorenzo said.
The EDL Group, however, is not about to throw in the towel, thus immediately shifted gears and explored other ways to earn revenues to keep its 700-strong workforce employed.
It explored new business models for Primaduck, tapped new distribution channels such as supermarkets and neighborhood eateries and new revenue streams such as through e-commerce.
“We are now working on distribution on a bigger scale in Luzon. We have our online stores selling the frozen duck products (www.pekingduck.ph) (www.edl-store.com), fresh whole duck meat and whole duck hams. Our Roasted Duck Express (www.roastedduckexpress.com) is doing well online as well,” Lorenzo said, “A reseller program is underway and we are just excited because the economy is slowly opening up, but we still have to be very careful though, COVID-19 is still a threat and a danger.”
The EDL Group has had its shares of business challenges over its almost 30 years of operations, but COVID-19 proved to be a more formidable opponent. What it taught the group is that it has to always be on its toes and ready to pivot immediately.
“We recognize that a business like ours needs to continuously innovate and pivot if needed, that is the ultimate lesson for us, and may work for most businesses, too. So we are currently continuing to build a strong presence online, since it is very effective and cost efficient,” he said.
And despite the continuing lockdowns that have hampered operations, the EDL Group remains optimtic about Primaduck.
“More are being vaccinated, and slowly we will be able to contain and eventually defeat this virus. And while there are many duck lovers out there, we will continue to bring them the best in quality duck products. Filipinos are slowly, but steadily, accepting duck meat on their plates,” Lorenzo said.
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