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Business

Snack maker Universal Robina Corp. to sell rubbing alcohol amid fight vs pandemic

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
Snack maker Universal Robina Corp. to sell rubbing alcohol amid fight vs pandemic
Only few bottles of alcohol were left on the shelves after customers went panic buying in a store in Quezon City on March 11, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Snack maker Universal Robina Corp. announced Monday it will venture into the manufacturing of pharmaceutical grade alcohol amid high demand as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange, the Gokongwei-led company said its Board of Directors approved changes in its articles of incorporation that will allow the firm to engage in the business of producing rubbing alcohol and "other similar products."

Also approved was URC's plan to acquire, design, lease, construct, operate and maintain facilities and equipment for the production of pharmaceutical grade alcohol.

At the onset of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, supply of rubbing alcohol tightened after consumers hoarded essential items in preparation for self-isolation, prompting the government to impose purchase caps. The supply crunch was so bad that some of the country’s biggest liquor makers announced they would produce thousands of liters of rubbing alcohol for health workers.

The purchase limits were only lifted last month as supply normalizes.

In 2012, corporate regulators gave the go-signal for the entry of Universal Robina into ethanol fuel production. Bioethanol, also called ethanol fuel, is a light alcohol produced by fermenting starch or sugar from corn, sugarcane, cassava or nipa used as a substitute to gasoline.

In the first quarter, the food manufacturing unit of late tycoon John Gokongwei’s JG Summit Holdings Inc. netted P2.1 billion, down 32% year-on-year as growth momentum was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Looking forward, Irwin Lee, company president and and chief executive, expects the company to "weather these short-term challenges and emerge even stronger" thanks to its "strong balance sheet and healthy cash position."

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS UNIVERSAL ROBINA CORP.
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