Gokongwei upbeat on sugar industry-A A +A
Friday, February 15, 2013
BUSINESS tycoon John Gokongwei Jr., chairman of JG Summit Holdings, one of largest conglomerates in the Philippines, is confident on the future of the sugar industry.
Gokongwei was in Bacolod City on Thursday to accept the honor accorded to him by the Bacolod City Government and the Bacolaodiat Festival Foundation as the Honorary Mayor for the Year 2013 and as an Adopted Son of Bacolod City.
The award was in recognition for his contributions to the economy of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, particularly the establishment of Robinsons Place Bacolod in 1997. The mall opened up employment opportunities, supported local entrepreneurs and invigorated the economy of the city and province.
While Gokongwei is more popular for making air travel affordable to every Juan with Cebu Pacific Airlines, opening the doors of "unli text and call" with SUN Cellular and providing healthy, refreshing drinks with C2 tea beverages, his conglomerate is also a major player in the sugar industry.
"We have mills in URSUMCO (Manjuyod, Negros Oriental), SONEDCO (Kabankalan) and PASSI (Iloilo). We recently bought a sugar mill in Tolong, Negros Oriental, to add to our growing list of sugar mills. We use sugar in many of our very important products, including Great Taste 3-in-1, C2 iced tea, Jack n Jill chocolate pretzel and Cream-O biscuits, Cloud Nine chocolate and Maxx candy," said Gokongwei in his acceptance speech at the L' Fisher Hotel Thursday.
Tolong sugar mill, which was purchased about July last year from the Teves family, is actually the fifth sugar mill in the Universal Robina group. Aside from the four mentioned by Gokongwei, URC also owns CARSUMCO in Cagayan.
The five sugar mills, three (URSUMCO, CARSUMCO and SONEDCO) of which have sugar refineries, account for approximately 15 percent of national sugar production.
"We're putting up an ethanol plant in URSUMCO, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, and we're going to put up power plants using byproducts of sugar milling," continued Gokongwei. During the earlier presentation, it was mentioned that URC invested billions of pesos in a cogen plant in SONEDCO which is expected to come online by next year.
When asked if he is still in the market for more sugar mills, Gokongwei replied, "Why not, if the economics is right?"
As to the looming lowering of tariff on imported sugar by 2015, the taipan said, "We need to be very competitive. In life, there is always competition. We have to live with the rules of ASEAN. We have to be ready and we have to be very efficient."
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 15, 2013.