DESPITE apprehensions caused by recent news about the African Swine Fever (ASF) already affecting some farms in Mindanao region, Virginia Farms, Inc. continues to be bullish in the market and has lined up at least 16 more branches of The Pork Shop, its retail brand, to open this year here in Cebu and in Panay Island.
Virginia Farms President Rolando E. Tambago said that the presence of ASF will not affect the expansion plans that the company has already set this year, in fact the company is set to open its 44th branch here in Cebu in the northern town of Compostela on March 8, 2020.
Apart from being a challenge, Tambago said the company sees the happening as an opportunity to educate the people more on the benefits of consuming local meat products and get them to support the local pork industry.
“By consuming meat produced from local farms, you are not only assured of the quality of the meat you are buying for your family but also supporting the local pork industry and that is the opportunity that we want to tap, more than the business that it brings to us,” said Tambago.
With Visayas being the only region now with no reported case of ASF, Tambago said that Virginia Farms, Inc., the largest farm-to-pork business in Central Visayas, has taken it as its responsibility to ensure supply of pork in the market will not be disrupted given the ban of pork and pork-related products already imposed by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia.
Tambago, who is also the president of the Central Visayas Pork Producers Cooperative (CeViPPCo), added that Cebu is also seen as one of the remaining strongholds of the country’s pork industry against ASF, a highly contagious, economically devastating disease.
Major Pork Producer
Based on the latest figures, Cebu is the 4th largest pork producing province in the country with the local hog industry valued at P11 billion, contributing at least 4.3% to the country’s total meat volume.
Cebu produces 53,890 metric tons of pork annually, satisfying only 85% of the island’s total demand of 63,400 metric tons. The remaining 15% are sourced from other provinces in the country and abroad.
With the current ban of pork and pork related products from Luzon, Mindanao, Easter Visayas other countries with confirmed ASF cases including Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Luxembourg, Belgium, Bulgaria, Moldova, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, South Korea, and China, Tambago admitted they are anticipating shortage in supply.
He however said that the impact will not be felt strongly by the consumers as Cebu still has enough inventory to last for the next three months. “By then, hopefully the local suppliers could have already ramped up production,” he said.
“While we at CeViPPCo are doing our best to protect the industry against ASF, together with the government, we at Virginia Farms would also try to make sure that the consumers will not suffer by ensuring there is enough supply in the market sold at steady prices that is why we will continue to open shops in other areas that we are not yet serving,” he said.
Of the 16 branches that are lined up this year, eight (8) will be in Cebu, which will be located in key areas from the north to south and the other half will be in Panay Island in Western Visayas.
“We have identified priority areas in Cebu for the opening. What we can assure is that these branches will definitely cater to the needs of the community especially that supplies from outside Cebu is no longer available due to the ban,” he said.
Virginia Farms currently has a total of 43 branches in Cebu and two (2) branches in Iloilo City, which was opened in January this year. With the expansion plan, the company is looking to end the year with a total of 61 branches – 51 in Cebu and 10 in Panay Island.