Sunday, February 08, 2009

Banking on good name to attain success

By Ephraim Aguilar
Inquirer Southern Luzon

DARAGA, ALBAY--Wendy Destacamento, 55, a local producer of processed meat, knows that her products are of the best quality simply because her own grandchildren eat them.

Wendy, a grandmother of three, says there is nothing as reliable as what’s cooking in your mother’s kitchen—a familiar taste that never jades the appetite.

“We earned our buyers’ trust by our “lutong-bahay” (home-cooked) reputation,” Wendy says. “We ensure the quality of our products since they’re what we eat, and they’re what our own grandchildren eat.”

Wendy and her husband Oscar, 60, have been locally producing fresh cut and processed meat products in Albay province through Juanito’s Meat and Marinated Products—a homegrown company they put up 24 years ago.

It started in 1985 with a meager capital of P1,500. The couple would sell fresh pork to friends. That eventually led to the establishment of an outlet in this town’s public market. Later, another branch opened in a more strategic place in Legazpi City.

Oscar says that since locally processed meat products cater only to smaller areas requiring shorter freezing time, they are free from harmful preservatives.

Juanito’s Meat has since expanded, producing other meat products as well, such as hotdog, ham, meat loaf, luncheon meat, corned beef, smoked hamonado, foot-long sausage, bologna, embutido, burger patties and lumpia shanghai.

Oscar says Juanito’s does not use genetically engineered or modified organisms or additives in their products. It also uses organic color such as paprika or “paminton.”

He adds they do not use dumped or cheap meat from other countries. Juanito’s products have also been fortified with anticarcinogenic properties and Vitamin C.

The Destacamento couple has never been daunted even if Juanito’s sits alongside other popular meat brands in shopping mall freezers in the cities of Legazpi and Lucena.

Juanito’s may not have put out advertisements on TV or newspapers, but it has a loyal clientele whose number has grown through the years by word of mouth.

“People who have tested the quality of our products eventually become our loyal buyers,” says Wendy. “And they tell their friends about us, too.”

She says locally processed meat products are more fresh since it is intended for smaller communities and is expected to reach consumers soon after production, thus requiring no artificial preservatives.

After the scare that gripped the world when some food products imported from China were reportedly contaminated with melamine—a white powder used in plastic-making harmful to human health—local food producers expected a boost in sales.

Oscar, who is also vice president of the Bicol Region Association of Meat Processors, says their sales increased by 15 percent after the China food scandal late last year.

However, Oscar adds that this boost in sales is still measly compared to profits and property lost to the “Supertyphoon Reming” in late 2006. The power outage that lasted for more than a month caused them to temporarily cease operations.

“We almost closed down our business,” Wendy says, recalling the tragedy. “We even told our workers they had to stop working for us, and when we gave them their separation pays, they didn’t want to take the money.”

It was then that Wendy realized they were “helping people earn a living ... and that we were also providing quality food to the locals, so we decided to press on no matter how hard it was.”

Another challenge faced by local meat processors is the limited market.

The couple says it really takes constant effort to maintain good product quality on which to build a good and trusted name. Only by doing so will the number of their loyal costumers grow.

(Juanito’s Meat may be reached at 0915-8246003.)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Spend more on social services, gov’t urged

By Ephraim Aguilar
Inquirer Southern Luzon

LEGAZPI CITY--WITH THE GLOBAL ECOnomic crisis looking like it will be “deeper, broader and longer,” the government should prioritize social protection measures over a stimulus package, said Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.

Instead of the “big-jolt” spending of a stimulus package to pump life into a sickening economy, the government should spend more, but slowly, on basic social services, said Salceda, who is one of President Macapagal-Arroyo’s economic advisers.

Salceda, who spoke at the Bicol Regional Development Council meeting here, said the global economic slowdown is likely to last three years.

Salceda, who is the Bicol-RDC chair, argued for a change in the development framework, saying that in a stimulus response to the crisis, as in the P330-billion stimulus package, government resources could run out.

He said the government should focus on long-term projects, take advantage of low economic activity, and expand productive capacity while creating jobs to support incomes.

Salceda explained that in an economic crisis, demand—or the daily activity of buying and spending that keeps an economy going—weakens. Even if prices of goods are low, people do not have the money to spend.

If businesses and consumers would rather save than spend, then the government should do more of the spending, Salceda said.

“When everyone stops spending, only the government can take risks. When there is no demand, only the government can create demand,” Salceda said.

He said government should be doing the spending because it can afford to take big losses and its losses are spread out over the entire population and over time.

In the meantime, the governor advised people to be frugal spenders and businessmen to cut down on essentials.

He said people should build their skills to make themselves more marketable. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.