Bread maker Gardenia Bakeries Philippines Inc. reported a 35-percent sales increase in the second quarter despite harsh lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Gardenia president Simplicio Umali said sales had been robust since March because of abnormally high demand as consumers tended to stock-up on essentials including bread.
“In the first quarter, sales were up by 5 percent only. The surge in sales in the second quarter was likely because we have been the leading brand and consumer confidence is high on our products,” he said.
The company has a combined production output of 1.8 million loaves and buns a day as the expansion in Pampanga and Mindanao added to previous capacity of the company’s principal plant in Laguna.
Umali said the expansion would be useful in case of unforeseen events, natural disasters as the plant in Pampanga could supply the requirements of Metro Manila and Southern Luzon. He said the bread factories in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro could also serve the Visayas market, providing back-up for each plant.
He said Gardenia would hold off any price increase on its products until the end of 2020 to make life easier for most Filipinos. The company also donated bread to poor communities before and during the pandemic.
Umali said the company was willing to continue to absorb the price spikes in raw materials, given the stable foreign exchange rate.
The company has been operating 24-hours a day since the start of quarantine period in March and has been maintaining 90-percent to 95-percent operability.
The factories are prepared to utilize the spare capacity to launch a full-capacity operation to meet an upsurge in demand, according to Umali.
He said that as bread production in its plants is fully-automated, breads produced are untouched by human hands. The company also imposed additional sanitary measures such as the wearing of masks and physical distancing to add to the hazard analysis and critical control points protocol.
The high demand for bread prompted the company to shift and focus production to loaves at the height of the enhanced community quarantine, when it only two-thirds of its manpower were able to go to work because of the lockdown.
Umali said the brisk demand for bread was expected to continue until year-end, although it could soften a bit in November, in anticipation of slower demand during the All Souls’ Day.
“Usually, we have a three-day peak during All Souls Day. But we have discarded that volume. Despite that, we think demand will still be high around Christmas even without the parties and celebrations,” Umali said.