Cargill Philippines Inc. will pursue a planned P12.5-billion investments in the country over the next five years despite the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its operations, a top executive said Thursday.
Cargill Philippines president and chief executive Sonny Catacutan said the investments would be spread in several projects over a five-year period, instead of the original plan of two years.
Catacutan said sales this year were not as good as in 2019 amid the pandemic. He said every aspect of the company’s operations, except for swine production, did not perform well in 2020.
“There were delays because of the lockdowns. This pandemic is giving us a lot of business uncertainties that push us to really operate efficiently and be agile with the changes. But we remain committed to that investment,” he said in a virtual briefing.
Catacutan mentioned a project in the Visayas that took a backseat, temporarily. The expansion of the company’s grains and feeds business in the region was delayed, but the company assured that its presence would still be felt in the area.
The company is also aggressively addressing the African swine fever disease as production drastically went down starting 2019 and many institutional customers and backyard raisers called for assistance to sanitize their farms.
Catacutan said that across the company, there was a marked reduction in operations by at least 40 percent. He said chicken sales, from the company’s poultry facilities, dropped 40 percent as traditional customers from the hotel and restaurant industries and fast food chains shut down their stores during the lockdown.
About 30 percent of total demand for poultry comes from hotels and restaurants. Catacutan said with the significant drop in demand from these clients, it forced Cargill to resort to retailing to groceries and other outlets.
“Without the pandemic, I cannot imagine Cargill to be on retail. But you know, in crisis there is opportunity. So it pushed Cargill to push our products and there is demand for affordable and safe chicken in retail stores and in neighborhood retailers. So this is something new for us,” Catacutan said.
“This is a new project that is quite encouraging. It is, in fact, increasing. We are thinking of continuing to expand this business on top of our supply to Jollibee,” he said.
Cargill teamed up with Jollibee Foods Corp. to put up the country’s biggest integrated poultry facility C-Joy that can process up to 45 million chicken annually. The facility employs 1,500 workers.
The company recently diversified into poultry and swine production. It remains actively involved in copra processing and trading, animal nutrition, grain and feed production.
It provides customers farm expertise and customized solutions to address animal health issues and the pandemic.
“As a business engaged in agriculture and food production, we are cognizant of our responsibility to keep the food supply chains going as an essential business,” Catacutan said.
“We have kept our operations running across all our business units through the quarantine season. We are also frontliners in this fight against the pandemic,” he said.