In a brief round-up last May, Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) personally witnessed how local sardines producers in Zamboanga del Norte are able to adhere to global standards through the DOST’s flagship program, Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).
Sec. Montejo with Undersecretary Carol M. Yorobe visited some of the SETUP-assisted projects last 16-17 May 2012.
During the visit, Sec. Montejo said he has high hopes that these MSMEs with proper support and access to appropriate technology can surely make big and be of help to the national economy.
Continuous improvement, perfect formula to being globally-competitive
Sec. Montejo acknowledged the robust efforts undertaken by Montaño Foods Corporation (MFC) for its continuous product innovation and process improvement to meet global standards.
He added, infusion of appropriate technology in business operations should be the path to take for local enterprises to be competitive.
Mr. Dennis Saile, MFC officer-in-charge, revealed that their firm is now graded “A” in HACCP, the highest rating given for a company that excellently satisfied the criteria and requirements set by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the country’s HACCP-certifying body.
HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, a recognized food safety preventive approach, is a requirement for a product to enter export market especially European countries.
Mr. Saile added that their company is also Halal-certified.
The Department of Science and Technology Regional Office – IX (DOST-IX) through SETUP provided Php985,894 worth of assistance to MFC in 2007 for the acquisition of processing equipment needed for HACCP certification.
DOST-IX assisted MFC, among others, in its process improvement through technical consultancy on HACCP and GMP compliance; manpower development through conduct of in-house Food Safety Trainings such as GMP and Basic Sanitation and Hygiene for food plant workers; technical consultancy on proper plant layout and optimum process flow; product quality improvement thru product testing; equipment acquisition and the establishment of a 200 square-meter fully-screened drying facility with concrete floor and polyethylene roofing. The facility ensured hygienic and sanitized drying process for fish products.
As a result of DOST-IX’s effective S&T interventions coupled with MFC’s robust expansion efforts, from a mere gift-giving and selective selling to friends, MFC now controls 35% of local market for bottled sardines. It now produces an annual average of 48,000 cases of Spanish-style bottled sardines, available in eight variants and provides additional 10 employment opportunities in the province.
MFC has fully refunded the cost of equipment under SETUP assistance-phase 1 and its application for phase 2, with project cost closed to Php2-million has been approved in May 2012. The Phase 2 assistance is to enable MFC to be EU-HACCP certified and penetrate the European markets.
From local consumption to export quality product
Ms. Kathryn Lim, Manager of Tita Rosa Food Products, Inc., said with DOST assistance, their company is now also HACCP-certified.
“It was instrumental for us in getting the HACCP recognition,” Ms. Lim said of DOST’s SETUP assistance during the visit of Sec. Montejo.
Tita Rosa, producer of Spanish-style bottled sardines based in Roxas Municipality, acquired a total of about P1-million through SETUP in 2010 for the acquisition of retort and steam boiler.
European countries require bottled sardines products to be cooked in retort for it to penetrate their market.
Like MFC, SETUP’s package of assistance for Tita Rosa also include technical consultancy on proper plant lay-out; Food Safety Trainings such as Good Manufacturing Practices, and Basic Sanitation and Hygiene; and product testing, packaging and labeling assistance.
Tita Rosa is now able to produce about 26,000 cases of bottled sardines valued at Php1.5 million annually. The assistance also generates additional 30 employment opportunities for the locals.
Tita Rosa and MFC are only two (2) of the many MSMEs in the region assisted by DOST and are now making big in their respective sectors. To date, 82 firms have been assisted by DOST in Region IX through SETUP. (DOST-IX)