Ramon S. Ang (File photo by LEO M. SABANGAN II / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Consumer giant San Miguel Food and Beverage (SMFB) has rolled out the single-largest local corporate food relief drive during this coronavirus pandemic valued at over P500 million to date.

“Very early on in the crisis, our president and CEO, Ramon S. Ang, gave us very clear marching orders: ensure food sufficiency and availability. Feed the hungry. Take care of the sick,” SMFB chief financial officer Ildefonso Alindogan reported to the company’s stockholders in an annual meeting on Wednesday.

In the last three months, Ildefonso thus reported that the men and women of SMFB had worked round the clock to heed this mandate, aiding over 1.6 million families since the start of the quarantine period.

SMFB has donated canned goods, poultry, flour, biscuits, coffee, and rice, among others, to local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations (NGOs), food banks and vulnerable communities nationwide. It also repurposed its spirits facilities to produce over 1.2 million liters of alcohol that were distributed to close to 4,000 hospitals, medical facilities, and government offices nationwide.
 
The group also produced its version of the nutribun, a vitamin-fortified bread that was first introduced in the 1970s to combat malnutrition. It has since distributed over 600,000 nutribuns to various affected communities nationwide.
 
SMFB has likewise provided support to the agriculture sector, especially small farmers, by purchasing raw materials from them at guaranteed prices.
 
For the broader market, SMFB ensured that its products were more accessible to consumers by adding new distribution channels. These include rolling reefer van stores stationed at a number of Petron stations, a fleet of “Manukang Bayan on Wheels” for easier access on the community level, and an online ordering system.
 
The company also helped roll out Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita rolling markets, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, to enable farmers to sell their fresh produce to more consumers via Petron service stations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has many social and economic challenges to the forefront. As one of the largest food and beverage companies today, we have a responsibility to deliver vital necessities to our consumers and support the most vulnerable communities nationwide,” Ang said.
 
“From this crisis, we also learned of the importance of the need for more inclusive growth. Moving forward, our company commits to providing opportunities that will help build more resilient communities that will help pave the way for a more resilient economy,” he added.
 
Ang thanked the entire SMFB workforce for their commitment to business continuity and for helping the hardest-hit communities from day one of the pandemic.
 
“You make me feel so proud of the work that you are doing, making a difference in the lives of so many people. You went beyond the call of duty with malasakit (care). These are very challenging times, but you made it easier. I cannot thank all of you enough,” Ang added. 

Despite the current crisis, Ang noted that SMFB was well-placed to weather the current situation.
 
“Our strong fundamentals enabled us to get through this period. SMFB has a strong balance sheet, manageable debt service obligations, and ample liquidity. The company is also taking the appropriate steps to manage its expenses and capital expenditures moving forward,” Ang said.

Including the initiatives of other companies under parent conglomerate San Miguel Corp., group-wide spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis has breached P13.08 billion. This included spending for medical equipment and supplies, disinfecting alcohol, waiver of toll for medical front liners at expressways, free fuel for government’s “Libreng Sakay” program for medical workers, taxes and concession fees to ensure availability of funds for government, and full salaries paid for employees and payments to third-party providers.


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