Future minded

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Big or small, many corporations and businesses around the world have started to pay serious attention to the concept of “sustainability” as it applies to their business models.

Simply put, the idea is to ensure that current and future activities are done in a manner that insures the availability of raw materials, human resources, protects the environment and continues to support and develop markets or customers.

Before the concept of “sustainability in business” really hit home, most owners and corporations mistakenly assumed that nature would always provide raw materials and resources, people will continue to work in one place and that customers are a captured market. Those who continued to think that way are now paying dearly or have closed down.

I am glad to report that many companies in the food business are now working hard and at a cost just to establish sustainability practices in their supply chains, supporting circular economies where everybody benefits fairly and have formed important alliances towards complimentary goals or concerns. Even more interesting is that they are mostly young individuals willing to be “future minded.”

Last week, I got a chance to meet Marco and Morris Qua, the hardworking brothers behind Cold Storage, one of the country’s trusted names in the seafood industry for 27 years, providing premium quality seafood to customers around the world.

While most guys their age would be focused on proving themselves and making as much money possible, Marco and Morris have developed a reputation for being focused on quality, excellence and good working relationships with stakeholders. Morris is the force behind production, quality and factory operations while Marco has the responsibility of marketing Cold Storage products globally, developing new products, sources and promotions.

As such they recently hosted an event dubbed “GENSEA: Dive Into Sustainability,” the first of a continuing commitment towards sustainability and support for the non-profit organization Save Philippine Seas (SPS).

Even before the program, Marco and I already did some catching up since I got to interview him via zoom in 2023 but never had a chance to meet him in person. As it turns out, we had shared values and concerns about coastal communities, the untapped and underdeveloped local products, resources and skills, given the fact that the Philippines has one of the longest coastlines in the world.

We actually even got to talking about how different coastal villages and economies would look like and be valued in terms of pesos if many coastal villages had properly built and operated aquaculture farms or floating fish cages. I myself have raised grouper and sea bass from fingerling size to over a kilo in a huge aquarium as well as a floating cage, so I know it can be done and can turn a profit. 

That’s when Marco mentioned the need or was it plans to set up Cold Storage facilities powered by solar and generator power. Back in my days in Palawan, sustainability was not yet a “thing” and neither was solar power. But from experience, I advised Marco that there was no need for huge facilities like what the government did during the time of Marcos Sr. where many huge cold storage plants turned into “white elephants” and are now controlled by traders.

We agreed that turnover and collection was the key and every time there is a harvest or fishermen come in with their catch, there should be a network of ready buyers or markets, so the fish don’t pile up or end up as tuyo or dried fish.

Given that the Cold Storage group is in the business side of things, it only makes sense that they partner with a non-profit, non-government organization like SPS to create or develop their circular economies as well as embark on their sustainability program.

SPS already has established relationships along the shore where they refer to partners as Seatizens. They have a strong social media platform and a legacy of proactive engagements with private sector groups. It is here where Cold Storage and SPS hope to collaborate in terms of educational content, fundraising, promote innovation and environmental stewardship.

During the media engagement portion of the launch, I heard for the first time from restaurant owners who strictly follow guidelines when purchasing fish caught at sea. They won’t accept juvenile or undersized fish because doing so interferes with breeding and reproduction, which affect fish population growth.

Such a rule along with refusal to buy crabs and lobsters that are egg laden and a seasonal ban on specific fish are just some of the many ways that breeding, population protection and sustainability can be promoted.

Another restaurant owner shared that following protocols for sustainability is not easy because it costs more, involves more attention to details concerning where the marine products may have come from and what methods were applied to catch or gather fish, mussels, clams, lobsters or crabs. Another challenge is when customers demand to be served seafood that are not in season or when catch is low due to lunar cycles.

During my resort development days, tourists could not comprehend that during full moon, catching fish was a challenge. This is one of the reasons why resorts need to consider partnering with their local community to organize floating fish cages as part of sustainability concerns.

Even those who purchase vegetables, fruits, etc. go directly to farmers in order to give better returns to farmers while reducing food inflation caused by multiple middlemen and corruption along the delivery routes. A baker and a business owner also shared how they try to maximize every part of a plant, fruit, fish, etc., whether as soup stock, natural extender, etc.

All these to maximize utilization, reduce cost and sustain the dining pleasure of guests. Sustainability is the future at our doorsteps.

*      *      *

E-mail: [email protected]

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with