Philippines: URC, Vitasoy form beverage business JV

In first row (from left) are Vitasoy Group CEO Roberto Guidetti, URC executive VP and managing director Nilo Mapa. In second row (from left) are Vitasoy Group manager Geoffrey Leung, Vitasoy Group chief finance Chris Lau, Vitasoy-URC general maanager Tata Albert, and Vitasoy Group Senior Manager Walter Tsui.

Philippine food business conglomerate Universal Robina Corp (URC) has formed a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Vitasoy Group to explore more business opportunities for nutritious and sustainable food and beverage products.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Vitasoy is an international manufacturer and distributor of a food and beverage portfolio focused on sustainable plant-based nutrition. Its products include soy and other types of plant milk, such as coconut milk and almond milk, as well as tofu under the VITASOY brand.

Vitasoy Group CEO Roberto Guidetti said, the goal is to explore the potential of plant-based sustainable beverages in the Philippines and approach the market with a spirit of learning.

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“Whilst confident that the long-term consumer trends are very favorable, we consider the Philippines a very developed, competitive and diversified market which will require diligent study and learning to ensure that the JV portfolio offering will best serve the needs and desires of the Filipino community,” Guidetti said.

URC president and CEO Lance Gokongwei described the joint venture as “a perfect fit” as both companies strive to promote both consumer well-being and sustainable nutrition.

URC is a local listed company behind market leading brands Jack ‘n Jill, Great Taste, and C2, and is one of the Philippines’ largest branded consumer food and beverage companies, with a market capitalization of almost $9 billion and a growing presence in the ASEAN and Oceania markets.

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The company has a wide range of food-related businesses, including the production and distribution of branded consumer foods, sugar refining and flour milling, and agro-industrial operations, mainly in hogs farming and animal feed milling.

URC’s combined sales of its branded products in the Philippines and abroad have a 5-year CAGR of 13 per cent from $1.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 to $2 billion in FY2016.

The conglomerate’s last trading price today increased 0.31 per cent or P0.50 to close at P160.50 per share.

“Vitasoy is excited about the partnership of two successful Asian family companies to bring high quality sustainable plant-based beverages to the Filipino community,” Guidetti said.

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Established in 1940 by Dr. Kwee-seong Lo, Vitasoy currently has manufacturing operations in Hong Kong, mainland China, Australia and Singapore, and sells to more than 40 markets globally. It has a market capitalization exceeding $2 billion as of January 31, 2017.

Total revenue of the Vitasoy Group has a 5-year CAGR of 11 per cent having increased from $478 million year-on-year from 2011 to 2012 to $714 million in 2015 to 2016.

Vitasoy also offers a variety of teas, juices, distilled water and other beverages under the VITA brand. Made with non-GMO soybeans, Vitasoy’s soy milk portfolio offers a variety of formulations such as those that have zero cholesterol, are lactose free, low in saturated fat and rich in good quality protein.

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