The Philippine government has tapped San Miguel Corporation (SMC) for its new packaging solution that will prolong the shelf life of local milk.
SMC’s packaging unit, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp. (SMYPC), recently signed an agreement with the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Under the agreement, SMYPC will be tapped to pack an initial four million cans of sterilized carabao’s milk for distributions in Regions 1 to 3 and parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
SMYPC will particularly act as a third-party toll packer utilizing its new retort process to package some 40,000 liters of carabao milk supplied by local farmer’s cooperatives in Nueva Ecija.
This will be part of the nationwide school-based feeding program jointly implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
With the retort process, carabao’s milk can be preserved for up to six months without preservatives and packaged in aluminum cans.
Previously, carabao milk packed in flexible packaging only lasts for a maximum of seven days.
Aside from the extended shelf life, the sterilized canned milk can easily be transported, stored under ambient temperature, and delivered in bulk rather than on a daily basis.
“With this technology, we expect that more school children will be able to drink nutritious carabao’s milk, particularly those who reside in far-flung, mountainous and hard-to-reach areas, and those with no electricity or limited storage facilities,” SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said.
The agreement with SMC, set to start later this month, will significantly increase the carabao milk supplied from local dairy cooperatives to the DepEd and the DSWD under the national feeding program.
Last year, the PCC-assisted dairy cooperatives committed to provide milk to 503,955 children. For this year, 1.01 million children already benefitted from carabao milk provided by local dairy cooperatives.
The DepEd and DSWD’s feeding program, mandated by Republic Act 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act”, aims to address the nutritional needs of undernourished children to combat hunger and malnutrition. It serves the undernourished children in public day care kindergarten and elementary schools from kindergarten up to Grade 6.
With the funding provided by the DepEd and DSWD, PCC will consolidate carabao’s milk from local dairy farmer cooperatives in Nueva Ecija and deliver these to the San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp. facility in San Fernando, Pampanga for sterilization and packaging.
From the SMC plant in Pampanga, the sterilized carabao’s milk will then be delivered to schools division offices (SDOs) for distribution to the undernourished children.
Ang said the company’s new equipment for the new retort process can also be used for a variety of beverage products, including teas, coffee, soya, and other milk-based products.
Last year, SMC helped the farmers by buying up thousands of liters of excess carabao milk for donation to poor communities at the height of pandemic restrictions. It also promised to help make carabao milk more marketable by developing a packaging format for the farmer cooperatives, for free.