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A Successful Frozen Food Business in the Philippines

The frozen food business is one of the most profitable small-scale businesses in the Philippines and can be sustainable if properly managed.

Roberto Escapalao of Silay City, Negros Occidental has been raising pigs and chickens for almost a decade as his main source of income, and the rising cost of feeds highly affected his livelihood. Ever since COVID-19 hit the country 2 years ago, he barely makes a living. When his oldest son, who worked in a frozen food processing company in Malvar, Batangas, returned home, everything changed.

Roberto was selling live animals to a local slaughterhouse for more than nine years. Animal farmers like him who sell live animals often make a little money compared to the people who bought, butcher and sell the animals. This has been happening everywhere in the Philippines. Farmers often make little money than the middlemen.

“Minsan halos hingin na lang nila ang manok mo. Sa palengke umaabot sa P180 and kilo ng manok pero kukuhanin lang nila sayo ng P95 to P105. Lugi talaga s apatuka”, Roberto told Agraryo. His oldest son, Ricky, became jobless when a food processing company where is was working in Batangas, downsized due to the pandemic on September 2020. He returned home and started helping his father diversify their small piggery and poultry business.

frozen food business
Pork and chicken meat image credit Department of Agriculture

The family maintains 20 pigs and no more than 1,000 broilers at any given time, just enough to feed the family of six with two college students. When Ricky told his father that he wanted to experiment on frozen foods, his father gave him just one pig and 100 chickens to try his recipe. He went through several trials and errors and after several tries, he created his own Pork Tocino and skinless Longanisa. When the family approved its taste, he wasted no time and made 10 kilos each which was sold in just one day. That was August 2020 and by October, he was selling 30 kilos a day.

“Natagalan po ako sa manok dahim mejo mahirap ayusin ang lasa. Di kagaya ng baboy na mas madaling timplahin. Mejo marami akong nasayang na manok bago ko nagawa ang chicken longanisa at tocino ko”, Ricky told Agraryo.

By January 2021, the family was slaughtering one pig of around 80 kilos per day and at least 100 chickens. Their products include pork tocino, skinless longanisa, chicken tocino and longanisa, embutido, and also chicken parts like wings and legs.

“Sobrang laki po ng pinagbago sa kita dahil dati, kung ang 80 kilos po na baboy ay ibinenta namin sa iba, nasa 11k to 12k lag ang kikitain namin depende sa presyo. Pero ngayon pwede pong kumita ng 25k to 30k dahil wala pong nasasayang. Sa manok naman po dati kuhanin lang sa amin ng P90 per kilo, ngayon kaya naming kumita 250 kada kilo. Di naman po ganon kahirap gawin at maliit din lang naman ang gastos sa kuryente”, Ricky added.

By May 2022, the small animal farm business was already supplying the public markets surrounding Metro Bacolod and slaughtering 4 to 5 pigs a day. 

“Mejo swerte din po dahil napag-isipan ng anak ko na ibahin ang diskarte. Dati kasi ibang tao ang kumikita, ngayon kami na lahat at wala nang sayang. Dati kahit lamang loob di kami makakatikim kung di kami bibili kahit kami nag-alaga”, Roberto said.

He also added that his business is already helping at least six families who sell their products on a consignment basis.

“May mga kakilala at kapitbahay na rin pong umaangkat sa amin at yon nga po, nagkakameron na rin sila ng kabuhayan”, he said.

Many local publications and other sources prove that buying and selling frozen foods can be a successful business here in the Philippines, but growing your own livestock and processing it makes a total difference. 

Ricky’s experience in working for a multinational company producing frozen products helps a lot but he said his products taste better than what his previous company was making. 

“Masarap po itong sa amin at handmade po isa pa puro sariwa po ang karne. Yong ginagawa po namin s aplanta puro imported po at di natin alam kung ilang buwan nang nasa freezer. Iba po talaga ang lasa pag locally made lalo pa at wala masyadong preservatives. Malayo na rin po ang narating ng products namin at sobrang kinukulang nga po kami sa supply. Kami na rin po ngayon ang namimili ng live animals pero mas mataas ng konti sa slaughterhouse ang presyo namain dahil don din kami galing, naiintindihan namina ng hinaing ng mga nag-aalaga ng hayop”, Ricky added.

For people who want to do the same business in your place, there are a lot of YouTube videos (like the one below) on how to make frozen foods. It takes passion and dedication though to find your own taste and develop your own recipe based on those resources. 

Although buying branded products seems convenient, making your own brand is far more profitable and enjoyable.

Is the frozen food business a profitable business in the Philippines?

Frozen food business or processed meat business is a very profitable type of business in the Philippines whether you are buying/selling, or making your own recipe. And in the right setting along with good empirical research, it can be the key to your financial freedom.

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