By James A. Loyola
San Miguel Food and Beverage Inc. (SMFB) continued to be bullish about its growth prospects as its core businesses flourish under any economic conditions.
“The food and beverage business will continue to grow. There is no bad news nor cyclical force that can derail its growth. It’s immune to economic shocks, downturn or what,” said SMFB Vice Chairman Ramon Ang.
SMFB President Francisco Alejo III said the company has been expanding its capacity and is in the process of completing the conversion of its bottling plant in Sta. Rosa Laguna into a full-fledged brewery by next year.
The company is also looking at completing another brewery, this time in Misamis Oriental, to cover the Mindanao market better.
SMFB is set to spend about P71 billion for its expansion in the next three to five years, and this includes new facilities for poultry and fresh meats processing, feed mills, flour milling and increased capacity for prepared and packaged foods.
SMFB Chief Operating Officer for Beer Roberto Huang said beer volume is expected to continue growing in the backdrop of the strong economy, and a steady population growth.
“Our beer consumption remains low compared to Thailand and Vietnam. We see no reason for growth not to continue,” said Huang.
Ang said that as part of the company’s further expansion, the company is looking at 10 new breweries “all over the Philippines” while also studying the prospect of putting up plants in the US and Vietnam.
“On hard liquor, we are looking at three plants as well. For food, we are looking at 12 feedmills, each of them with one million ton annual capacity. And we are also expanding our hotdog plant to expand to 400 tons per day,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ang said the firm will cooperate with the government in its plan increase excise taxes on liquor products but warned that the increase should be reasonable because it could pull down consumption.
Ang said they are amenable with any type of increase, which may slap as much as P40 per liter on fermented liquor such as beer, as long as the consumer can absorb the increase.
He noted the volume may go down as a result of the additional excise taxes but the public will eventually adjust with the increase.
However, Ang warned that if the taxes are too much the public may shift to other types of liquor products. He said liquor consumption in the country is too low and it is very hard to increase due to affordability of the products.