UNILEVER Philippines will start exporting halal products from its new halal-certified factory in Cavite, in its bid to capture a share of the multi-billion-dollar halal industry in the region, its newly installed Chairman and CEO Benjie Yap said.
The firm is also keen on “new, strategic” investments in the country involving localizing new product lines.
Just having garnered halal-certification of its P1.7-billion Unilever Cavite Foods Factory, the transnational consumer-goods titan is keen on shipping out an array of halal-approved products, starting with its existing export market, Malaysia.
“It’s the first time we’re exporting halal products because the factory was just recently halal-certified—just this January or February. We’re looking at exporting to Malaysia, which would require some halal products and also expanding to other Muslim countries across Southeast Asia,” Yap told reporters during a news briefing before the official handover ceremony of the company’s chairmanship on Thursday.
While no numbers were shared, Yap noted halal-certified products, like its dressings under the Lady’s Choice brand, take up a “significant share” of the company’s total sales.
Unilever Philippines’s portfolio of products spans home care, personal care, food and refreshments.
Aside from Lady’s Choice, its other halal-certified brands are its Knorr products.
The company recently invested in a mega-distribution center in Cabuyao, Laguna, touted to be its biggest distribution center yet, which forms part of its announced P1.7-billion investment with the Unilever Cavite Foods Factory.
The company is aiming to serve as the halal hub of Southeast Asia and Australia. Aside from these, other potential new investments can be made in localizing more products across its four categories.
“There are also some products we’re importing right now that we’re reviewing if we can localize them for export. There are different products for review. Once the review is finalized, there will be future investments coming in,” Yap said, declining to name specific brands.
“Seventy percent to 80 percent of what we sell in the market, we already produce locally,” said Ed Sunico, vice president of the Sustainable Business and Communications unit.
Veering toward local sourcing can add to the company’s track record for sustainable sourcing, which it is already doing for tamarind in Knorr sinigang and ube (purple yam) for Selecta ice cream. Yap is the first Filipino chairman of Unilever Philippines in 30 years. The company will be celebrating 90 years of operations in the Philippines this year. It expects a double-digit growth in 2017, similar to the range in growth it’s been seeing in the past four years.