While many would think that Virginia Farms Inc. was started with clear vision of becoming a major player in the swine farming industry, the farm was born out of a very simple reason – that is, to satisfy a requirement from the family’s main business back in 1968.
The founder, Doña Virginia Sy Chiongbian started her poultry and piggery venture in May 1968 to support the growing demand of food supply from its shipping company, William Lines, not knowing that 50 years later, it will become one of the biggest integrated “farm-to-pork” business in Central Visayas.
From what could be described as a backyard venture in Jagobiao, Mandaue City, the farm grew to become today’s biggest names when it comes to swine farming and a trusted brand of quality and affordable pork products.
The company’s earlier direction of providing meat supplies gave birth to today’s household brand of processed meat products, Virginia Food, Inc., which was, however, sold to Avalon Holdings, Inc. in 2002 as the management decided to prioritize the swine farming business.
Now focused on the swine business, the farm expanded its operation in Asturias, western Cebu with its sister company, Asturias Farms employing the best farming practices to maintain high quality produce. Together, they tapped and partnered with other companies who are the best in their field – from swine breeders/genetics, feeds formulation and preparation, to the slaughter of hogs and storage using world-class equipment and technologies.
Over the course of expansions, the farm saw tremendous growth not only in the number of hogs it produced yearly, but also in the number of people who joined the family contributing to the process of achieving a synergistic environment where everyone feels part of one goal.
The company believes in their people as an asset to them and has identified three core values for its people to reflect on in everything that they do as a member of Virginia Farms family – working as one, committing to honesty and consistency for excellence and assuring our customer’s demands. Guided by these values, a member of the family embodies excellence and that natural warmth not only to its customers but also to their fellow employees as they work together towards a common goal.
At Virginia Farms, you don’t see people leaving too soon. There are handful who have been with the company for over 30 years and grew in their careers as the company grew. It is also common to see several employees whose children, brothers and sisters also working at Virginia Farms and those who were scholars of the owners who eventually joined and built their careers at Virginia Farms.
Over the years, the company has successfully built a lasting relationship with its people built on trust and the compassion to see not only what each employees can offer to the company, but also looking at how the company can also help each employees achieve their personal goals.
Blessed with people who all took care of the company like it’s their own, the company soon established its retailing arm The Pork Shop in 2008. The subsidiary company sells pre-cut fresh chilled and/or fresh frozen pork meat and other farm produce.
Still guided by the same principle and values of putting excellence in everything they do, The Pork Shop saw fast growth in the last 11 years with 43 branches now spread across major cities and municipalities in Cebu including Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Cebu City, Danao City, Minglanilla, Consolacion and Liloan and two branches now also operating in Iloilo City, Iloilo. Every outlet is manned by friendly staff who are well trained to provide unparalleled customer service experience to every customer. The Pork Shop also supplies most of the local restaurants in Cebu, providing them with the best quality pork for their sought-after menu.
With its operations fast expanding and branches opening one after another, The Pork Shop needed faster and more efficient support system especially with the delivery of its meat products to the different branches. So in March 8, 2016, the Meat Cutting Plant in Maguikay, Mandaue City was established. This is the first of its class in the Philippines, which can handle processing of 1,000 hogs daily.
From the slaughterhouse, the carcasses are then brought to the plant for cutting using top-of-the-line and latest cutting technologies that ensure all the meat cuts are of premium quality before they are delivered to The Pork Shop branches and its customers.
Looking far ahead, the company knew it will soon need to increase its production as they continue to open more branches of The Pork Shop.
While they can simply open more piggery houses within the large 360-hectare property in Asturias, the company instead looked into setting up a partnership that will allow them to give back to the community and the best way to do that is to help other farmers by sharing the best practices that the company has developed in the last 50 years. Thus, Virginia Farmers Solutions was created in 2017.
Under the partnership, independent farmers can be a contract grower or contract breeder for Virginia Farms and are given technical and operational assistance by the company and are assured of a market for their hogs as Virginia Farms will buy all their harvest.
To complete the farm-to-pork value chain, the company has invested in their own slaughterhouse which is conveniently located in a 5,000 square meter lot within its 360-hectare farm property in Asturias, Cebu.
The Virginia Slaughterhouse and Meat Plant was inaugurated in October 8, 2019, further ensuring the delivery of nothing but the highest quality products and be more responsive to the growing and ever-changing demands of the consumers.
The slaughterhouse is a certified Triple A facility by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) and observes Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) to assure delivery of products that are guaranteed safe for the consumers.
As a company that also looks after the environment, Virginia Farms consciously puts in place measures to reduce its carbon footprint. The farm, including the slaughterhouse, utilizes its waste by converting it into electricity for its own operations through its own Biogas Digester. Other by-products of the biogas digester such as sludge and effluent water undergo treatment and are used as fertilizer and irrigation water for its kalamansi plantation and that of the lands tilled by the community.
Having put in place all these investments, the company places utmost importance to helping the communities where it operates through job creation and livelihood opportunities that will help uplift the lifestyle of the people in the surrounding communities and ultimately contribute to a positive economic development of the town.