DTI: Food manufacturers now at up to 90% capacity

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The supply of food products in Luzon is seen to get a boost as food manufacturers are now operating at 80 to 90 percent capacity, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

“We can now catch up with the supply of some products because we allow them now to operate at capacity,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the Laging Handa briefing on the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic held yesterday.

He said any shortage in supply was due to limited output, with manufacturers initially allowed to just operate on a skeleton workforce during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Last March 31, the DTI issued rules which allowed manufacturers to operate at 50 percent of their workforce or even higher if ensuring sufficient supply of the product warrants greater capacity during the community quarantine which will end on April 30.

Following requests from food manufacturers, Lopez said DTI allowed the firms to go beyond 50 percent of their workforce two weeks ago to be able to sustain output and have more supply.

Lopez said some are now operating at 80 to 90 percent capacity utilization.

“In terms of food, we don’t have any problem,” he said.

Lopez said food firms also have raw materials good for 45 days.

“It means, we have a lot of food being produced and some are already part of inventory. So, distribution is the only problem,” he said.

As for alcohol, he said there is a need to ramp up supply given the strong demand.

He said according to one manufacturer, total demand for alcohol last year is the same as the demand seen in just two months of this year.

“So, we invite manufacturers. Many have joined and they were not manufacturers of alcohol and are now producing alcohol. San Miguel Corp., Destileria Limtuaco, they are all producing alcohol now to add to the supply,” he said.

In terms of other products in demand like face masks, he said exporters in the country have committed to provide 10 million pieces to the country per month, from just two million monthly previously.

He said some exporters are also producing ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) to help fight COVID-19.

Earlier, the DTI said the local subsidiary of Taiwanese electronics manufacturer New Kinpo Group  will be producing ventilators and medical face masks for the country’s use.

Members of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines are also producing medical-grade PPE coveralls for health care workers.

“What DTI did is to encourage manufacturers and exporters to produce medical equipment and medical devices needed now,” Lopez said.

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