The Gokongwei-led Universal Robina Corp. (URC) has spent about P1 billion to triple production of its flour milling plant here to 900 tons of high-quality flour a day as it looks to expand its export volume to countries within Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, company officials said yesterday.
Lance Y. Gokongwei, chief executive officer of JG Summit Holdings, the holding company of the Gokongwei group, said expanding the plant will also increase the company’s flour exports to countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and other areas.
“This flour mill will not only serve the seven million population of the Davao Region,” said Gokongwei during his speech at the inauguration of the expansion plant, adding that it will also serve the needs of the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao.
More importantly, he said, the flour milling plant of the company in the city “will be used as an export base” for its foreign markets “so that they can experience the quality of flour when you combine expertise of (Swiss-based) Buhler equipment and top quality imported wheat (which comes from the US) and the experience and dedication of the entire URC company.”
He added he is proud of the company’s flour brands which are also used in producing its pastry and other similar products.
Gokongwei said the company decided to expand the plant, which was built in 1993 and started commercial operations the following year, as it wanted to address the continuing growth of its market as well as its “strong relationship” with the local community and the city.
“Today marks the culmination of that confidence,” he said, in reference to the expansion of the plant which was started in 1993 and started commercial operations the following year.
Naida D. Ebora, director for sales, marketing and distribution at URC, said that at present, the company is exporting about 15% of its production which totals about 2,150 metric tons a day, including the production of its first plant in Pasig City which started operating in 1970.
“We built another line because we are growing fast,” said Ebora, pointing out that the company has been selling its flour in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand and soon in Myanmar.
She said, however, that exporting flour is a challenge because of the shelf life of the commodity.
Gerardo M. Magadia, manufacturing director, said the new line, which uses new state-of-the art machines from Swiss-company Buhler just like the machines that it has been using in the first line, will also allow the company to compete with the rest of the flour makers in the world as its products have been of premium quality.
“With these (new machines) we have very minimal (human) interventions,” said Mr. Magadia, adding that the 1.3-hectare milling plant employs 247 workers.
Vice Mayor Bernard E. Al-ag, who represented Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio in the event, said the expansion project
“Thank you for believing in our city as an investment destination,” said Al-ag, highlighting that the city is also looking at luring more companies to invest in the manufacturing sector.