Century Pacific sees lower growth in 2021 after phenomenal results

Published January 9, 2021, 5:00 AM

by Elisor Recide

Filipino-owned Century Pacific Food Inc., the Philippines largest canned food manufacturer and leading producer in ASEAN, is looking at P50 billion in revenues this year with conservative growth target of 10 percent, lower than the expected phenomenal 20 percent growth in 2020.

Company COO and EVP Gregory Banzon revealed this during a media roundtable that they project a conservative growth of 10 percent this year from a dramatic 20 percent this year as the company anticipates some headwinds this year due to the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic that continue to haunt businesses. On a typical year, he said, they would normally set a 12-15 percent growth guidance.

  “We think we are able to establish a good base upon which to grow conservatively 10 percent, but internally we set our ambitions higher although that still remains to be seen with the headwinds that we are facing,” he said.

Aside from its own brands, Century is also the toll manufacturer for among the biggest international canned food brands. It is also expanding its milk products and into the plant based.

In terms of exports, the overall target is to grow the branded side to 15 to 20 percent this year and 10 percent on the OEM side. This means that exports will account for 26 percent of total revenues, which they are gunning about P50 billion. The company projected its 2020 final revenue to hit $1 billion.

Century’s canned food products used to be heavily skewed on the marine products at 60 percent, but is now down to 50 percent of total business. Roughly 50 percent of their supplies of seafoods are coming from Philippine fish catch and foreign supplies that they source from certified vessels that comply with international shipping standards.

Randy Cruz, global brands head, said this year growth will be boosted by its increasing presence in their international markets including Russia, and Africa and the robust business in the EU given the benefits it is currently enjoying for its tuna products under the EU-GSP Plus regime.

According to Cruz, the EU market is expected to grow a high double-digit this year as they continue to expand to take advantage of opportunities to serve not just the ethnic market but to cross over the mainstream market. He said they have been encouraged by interested retailers as there has been an increasing trend for Filipino food items overseas.

Century is present in 40 countries in the EU serving a good mix of ethnic and mainstream customers. In the Middle East, it has strongest presence in UAE and Israel. They were also to enter the African Union through COVID relief program and is now building its presence there.

Banzon explained that the 2020 growth was really phenomenal, as it was boosted by surges in demand during the lockdown for both local and export markets.

Century Pacific marketing head Faye Matriano cited the company’s strong solid supply chain and

logistics as their advantage to serve all the demands during the pandemic, including Singapore.

 The company even opened its third plant in General Santos City that created job opportunities to 1,600 Filipinos during the height of the pandemic.

 “Because we are always prepared for the rainy days, we’re able to serve demand both domestic and international even after that surge while key competitors were still struggling to rebuild capacity so we have that lift,” said Banzon. This strategy has translated to greater volume and higher market shares.

Domestically, Century has 83 percent market share in canned tuna, 54 percent in canned meat and 20 percent in milk. Its major labels are Century Tuna, 555 Sardines, Argentina, and milk products Angel, Birch Tree, and the latest coconut milk Coco Mama. It is the local licensee for Hunt’s and the local toll packer for Vita Coco at its plant in General Santos.

The company will also pursue its Kamayan brand, an affordable flavorful and easy to prepare authentic Filipino food products, condiments and desserts after acquiring the brand for the international business.

Banzon said they have to balance its strategy to be able to grow in all markets and optimize presence in the US and North America and the Asia the Asia Pacific corridor given the very difficult business environment given the pandemic challenges.

To ensure seamless distribution, Banzon said the company has to work with tollers in foreign markets to ensure they comply with the regulatory requirements in other countries.

Century Pacific is present in 80 countries, with 85 distributors, 14 tollers including 6 major toll packers in the US, Europe, Brazil and the Middle East, operates 5 major plants, and holds offices in the US, China and Vietnam. It has also 4 warehouses.

It is registered and certified compliant in all international food standards bodies. This has translated to various recognition and awards in prestigious award-giving bodies.