In a media briefing on Thursday, newly appointed Unilever Philippines Chairman Benjie Yap said the P1.7-billion Unilever Cavite Foods Factory gained halal certification in February.
The Cavite facility will produce and export halal products for the first time, and is envisioned to become Unilever’s “halal hub” for Southeast Asian and Australian markets.“We are exporting to Malaysia, expanding (as well to other Muslim areas in the region),” Mr. Yap said. “We cater to a wide variety of consumers, there are fellow Filipinos in the Muslim region who would look for halal-certified products… We want to make sure that we provide a variety of sources for individuals across the region.”
The local unit of consumer goods giant Unilever is building a mega-distribution center in Cabuyao, Laguna, which is targeted for completion by October. This would facilitate the distribution and transport of Unilever products manufactured in Cavite and Paco, Manila.
Mr. Yap said the company is currently reviewing the products across its home care, personal care, food, and refreshment segments. Among its most popular brands are Knorr, Lipton, Surf, Axe, Dove, Rexona and Cream Silk.
“Across the whole portfolio we’re reviewing what makes sense for the business in the Philippines,” Mr. Yap said.
Unilever Philippines is looking to further increase the number of products manufactured locally. At present, 70-80% of products sold here are locally made.
“Already a big part of our business is local anyway, we’re reviewing that a bigger proportion would be local as well,” Mr. Yap, the first Filipino chairman for Unilever Philippines in the last 30 years, said.
“When you export it takes a longer time typically, so there’s more appeal to produce locally. We need to make sure that our productivity and cost efficiency are at par or better than our peer companies abroad, and I think there’s a lot of good initiatives for the supply chain,” he added.
Unilever posted sales of under P80 billion in 2016, amid continued double-digit growth over the past three years, driven by innovations and distribution network. For 2017, the company expects a “good and healthy growth.”
“We want to make sure we grow ahead of the market every time… to sustain our track record,” Mr. Yap said.