In photo: Mekeni during the visit at Cook and Care Pampanga Medical
By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
Even before the prevalence of the buzzword resilience, Mekeni Food Corp. epitomizes what being resilient is.
As a backyard business that started in 1986, and then leveled up and later on became the country and Asia’s first ISO certified meat processing company had been through a lot of challenges.
When they were planning to expand, Mekeni Food Corporation was welcome by the devastating eruption of the dormant Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Six years after recovering from the damage brought by Pinatubo, in 1997 the Asian Financial Crisis affected many companies that resulted in the Philippine peso to plunge versus the mighty US dollar, thereby inevitably devaluating the peso value and the financial performance and cash flow of many businesses. Then in 2001, the unexpected advent of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that plagued the entire swine industry and scared the consumers to buy any pork-based products hit them.
Given all these external challenges, Mekeni continues to thrive and in its 35th year, the coronavirus pandemic has again disrupted the world, and many businesses are affected and the negative effects of the COVID-19 also affected the resilient company.
For Mekeni Food Corp. President Pruds Garcia, all these challenges are spices of life and something that would last. The most important is to trust in God, focus on the essentials and get your team to act together because no matter how long the storms batter you, they don’t last long.
Doing business under the new normal
At the onset of the pandemic, changes in the supply chain and consumer behavior have knocked many companies off balance. Mekeni, however, was able to navigate through the challenges and make these difficulties into a meaningful change that benefited everyone in and beyond their circle.
“Wading through uncharted waters over the past few months have been extremely difficult, but we have remained steadfast and resilient because of our people and communities that we serve. We have established programs and implemented agile operations to keep the business afloat while we prioritize our people’s welfare in the face of the crisis,” said Mekeni President Prudencio Garcia.
Last 2020, Mekeni has become one of the beacons of hope. The company came up with several long-term solutions to augment the livelihood of those who have been displaced and crippled by the economic crisis brought by the pandemic. Among these programs include the Mekeni Home2Home Delivery, reseller programs for distributors and employees, and the Bayani product line.
“We wanted to ensure that our customers will have access to quality food from the safety of their homes, so we launched our online delivery service. Also, we ought to find viable ways for our aspiring micropreneurs to continue earning their livelihood that’s why we strengthened our reseller program and diversified our product lines to cater to them,” said Garcia.
Mekeni is among the first companies that made delivery of frozen processed goods possible. The reseller program, on the other hand, is a manifestation of the company’s commitment to empowering its communities. Mekeni was able to embrace the new normal in business by enabling micropreneurs, which eventually helped revive the country’s MSMEs.
Helping Filipinos get through the pandemic
Apart from keeping the business afloat, Mekeni has always been keen on extending help to its communities may it be through donation drives or outreach activities.
The company has continued to deliver donations to select beneficiaries through various non-government organizations (NGOs) since mid-March when the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon was implemented. Mekeni has donated to several organizations all over Luzon. They’ve assisted frontliners in Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) Quezon City, Saint St. Luke’s Medical Center BGC in Taguig City, and Lugud Balen, a movement initiated by Kapampangan chefs, restaurant owners, and private individuals.
Mekeni also helped non-medical frontliners in Pampanga and has partnered with Caritas Manila and pledged food donations to over 700 families until year-end through its program Mekeni Bayanihan Pack.
Aside from helping their nearby communities during the pandemic, the company extended its efforts to far-flung areas devastated by natural disasters. Mekeni employees have spearheaded donation drives and turned over boxes of essential items to the displaced communities across the country.
Journey to recovery
Admitting that the COVID19 has affected the business, Garcia said, the company would rather embrace the challenges and have the right attitude in doing business under the new and better normal instead of falling into the analysis-paralysis trap.
“We will continue to innovate and ensure that the company will continue to explore and adapt to the necessary changes we need to do in the food manufacturing industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Garcia said.
“Our aim is not just for Mekeni to survive, but also for others to survive and recover in the process,” the President of Mekeni added.
“The pandemic led to many unforeseen negative effects. Many lost their jobs, others have their job but do not have the full working days since most of the business operations were downsized for the time being until we all go back to normal life and full-scale business operations,” Garcia explained.
“Given this situation now, Mekeni continue to endeavor in providing an opportunity to every household by becoming our partner in earning money by delivering quality products and services. The company promises to be the steady hands behind every aspiring entrepreneur, guiding and supporting them to fulfill their dreams,” Garcia underscored.
“Our path to recovery is clear: we will continue prioritizing our people and our community’s welfare with malasakit and Bayanihan engraved in our services. This is who we are when we started and is what we will continue to do and perpetuate the legacy of our founders, Nanay Meding and Tatay Felix, because it was them who prodded us to come home and help our community during the Mount Pinatubo eruption,” the President of Mekeni explained.
“Now that we are back at home, all of us including my brothers and the entire employees of Mekeni have in our DNA to help, to keep the Bayanihan alive, and contribute to the nation-building and make every home look forward to the road to recovery,” Garcia concluded.