Mekeni Food Products faces challenges with hope

A leader in food and meat processing industry based in Pampanga remains optimistic about its operations for the second quarter of 2021 despite the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

            “Despite the challenges, many of the food companies have adapted to the demands, supply is good, production is good but the buying power of people is limited,” said Mekeni Food Products Corporation President Prudencio ‘Pruds’ Garcia. He is referring to the inability of people to earn a living due to quarantine protocols that is observed to make sure that no one gets infected. However, he explains that loyal customers choose Mekeni products because of its competitive price and taste.

The production line of the company remains steady as, they made sure all of their workers stay healthy and keep their work. “There is no lay-off in our personnel,” Garcia said. They are among the few companies that are up during the more challenging times at the height of the strict quarantine guidelines and made sure that Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) pointers are observed.

Another hurdle came that threatens the whole meat industry is the continuing African Swine Fever (ASF) but Mekeni makes sure their products continue to remain wholesome, “We use raw materials which are not affected by the disease,” according to Garcia. Recently, government through the Department of Agriculture made efforts to resolve the supply shortage by working for higher volume of pork importation at a lower tariff.

“Pandemic has a negative impact but we are not stifled by it. We look at the positive side and adopts a pro-active attitude in doing business in the new and better normal,” Garcia illustrates. The over-all impact of COVID-19 to the economy can be devastating but unconventional marketing methods are done to resolve this problem. The company introduces “Home2Home with products” where a retailer can start business at a very reasonable capital based on his own home and also engage in delivering different products of the company. These can be sold at affordable prices.

The economy slowed down but the company reaches out to its retailers, “We help our partners to survive the economic slowdown, by finding ways in changing the game for the food manufacturing industry in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Garcia.

Mekeni finds value in taking care the people working for the company’s success through rough times, “At the heart of our company is our people, and I know that we have ingrained in their hearts the values of welfare and ‘malasakit’ for their work, the company, their families and our customers.”

The World Bank has it the pandemic’s economic impact could push about 100 million people into extreme poverty worldwide, but Garcia steers his company to a better route, “We always innovate into long-term solutions to augment the livelihood of those severely affected by lockdown and this pandemic.”

“Resiliency is in the bloodstream of our company and our people. From Mt. Pinatubo Eruption in 1991 to this Pandemic Economic Crisis which will be a springboard to reach higher goals,” he said.

Somehow past events like Pinatubo Eruption, peso devaluation; and rise and fall of market forces made the company stronger through the years. Their growth from being a small backyard family business to a local business minted with international standards recognitions is enough testaments.

Drawing strength from its early beginnings, Mekeni Food started in 1986 as a home-enterprise of chicharon and tocino of husband and wife, Felix M. Garcia and Medicia L. Santos, both public school teachers from Barrio Balubad, Porac, Pampanga. Help came in handy from their five sons — Adrian, Pruds, Lito, Doods and Nards — who were very responsible even at an early age. Mekeni then was a typical provincial backyard poultry and piggery, which was started to make ends meet. In no time with a help from loan and some personal savings of the family, the business began to flourish.

For a company based in a developing country like the Philippines, the stark reality of food shortage is inevitable but Mekeni makes its own contribution says Garcia, “Food security is our primary concern, we make sure that in the food production and meat processing industry we will lead others in exploring new horizons for the country, region and the world.”

(Emil Carreon, is a freelance TV Senior Executive Producer in the Philippines. He hopes to inspire people in times of Pandemic Economic Crisis)