Bread sales rise despite pandemic

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    Market leader in loaf bread Gardenia remains hopeful of a 5 to 10 percent growth in sales in the bread market for the rest of the year despite the new coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

    Simplicio Umali Jr., president and general manager of Gardenia Bakeries Philippines Inc., said the overall market may still grow with the company getting a huge chunk of the demand since some players cannot sufficiently supply the market.

    Umali said Gardenia has seen a  10-percent growth attributed to its wide coverage in production and distribution as well as the confidence of consumers to the brand.

    “Our distribution remains high. Our plants have been operating for 24 hours even during the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) We never stopped,” said Umali. At the height of the lockdown, Gardenia suspended its other bread lines and focused on loaves.

    Gardenia has facilities in Laguna, Pampanga, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.

    Umali added Gardenia plants are fully-automated  and  are certified Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point and the International Standard Organization, giving consumer confidence of the safe handling of their products.

    “We are observing the market  but we are ready to supply,” said Umali, adding Gardenia is operating at 90 to 95 percent capacity.

    Umali said Gardenia is holding off any price increase until the  end of the year and will absorb increases in cost of some high-value and micro ingredients due to limited supply.

    He said flour costs remain stable even as wheat prices in the world market are fluctuating.

    “Hopefully wheat prices will stabilize… the fluctuation is offset by the improvement n foreign exchange,” Umali said.

    He said the bread market may still see a surge in demand by December although muted compared to previous years. Demand for bread from households will remain high around the holidays but there will hardly any be sales for parties and celebrations associated with Christmas.

    Umali said the market  does not see the usual surge in demand during the Undas or All Saints’ Day when Filipinos gather for at least three days for family reunions.

    According to Umali, Gardenia has seen an abnormally sudden rise in sales of around 20 to 35 percent around

    April and May  as consumers refilled their pantries and to a certain extent, panic-buying.

    He said   sales have stabilized in June and July but still better the first quarter which rose 5 percent.