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F&B, sustainability sectors set to rebound within 1 year, survey reveals

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By Alithea De Jesus

Companies across the food and beverage (F&B) and sustainability sectors have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), but have adapted to digitalization to boost sales as they expect to get back on track in less than a year, a survey result indicated.

The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), fielded a two-week survey from May 22 to June 5 with 141 respondent micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to see how they are coping with the pandemic and how it can adjust plans and programs in response to their need to survive.

The CITEM survey showed that logistical challenges and drop in product and service demand affected local companies the most, while a significant number of them also noted they are having a hard time sourcing the raw material.

Despite these problems, measly 2.1 percent of the respondent MSMEs consider shutting down temporarily.

To cope with the coronavirus situation, health and sanitation are now their top priority while almost all companies are working to boost their local production, domestic sales, and financing, the same survey indicated.

It also found that interest is likewise strong in terms of export promotion effort, digitalization/process automation, and strengthening raw material sourcing.

F&B and sustainability companies adopted digitalization and market strategies including building an online management system to log and receive orders 24/7; created new essential products and offer additional services; contactless shopping, payment, and delivery; and stronger marketing in the community and local marketplaces, the survey said.

They identified their top digitalization efforts which are strengthening marketing on social media platforms, increasing the use of email interactions, investing in website development, building a presence on e-commerce platforms, and exploring online payment schemes.

These efforts aim to generate more sales; grow client and buyer database; build and manage brand image; offer products, service, discounts, and promos online; and advertise to a wider audience range.

“Domestic market is now the focus of respondents. Nearly half of the local companies still want to serve the export market despite the emerging trends and challenges in a post-pandemic global market,” the survey said.

It added firms who are still interested in the export market have identified the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Canada, and Japan which they will continue serving after Covid-19.

Meanwhile, of the 141 survey company respondents, 36.2 percent of them are food manufacturer-direct exporters, 29.7 percent are food manufacturer-indirect exporters, 9.4 percent are retailers, while 24.7 percent belong to other nature of business.

Most of them are located in the National Capital Region and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) Region IV-A, while some are in Cagayan Valley (Region II) and other regions.

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