THE Pork Shop, Virginia Farms Inc.'s retail arm in Cebu, officially entered Panay Island with the opening of its first two branches in Iloilo City on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
Located in Super Terminal Market and La Paz District beside the public market, the store will provide families with fresh supply of pork delivered daily.
Virginia Farms president Rolando Tambago said they decided to set up their first expansion outside of Cebu because of Iloilo's expected fast economic growth in the next five years.
The presence of several swine farms in Panay added more reason for the company to start operations on the island.
"Aside from bringing in high-quality pork through our retail arm, which is The Pork Shop, we would also like to help alleviate the standards of farming in Iloilo and anywhere we will be expanding," Tambago said.
Virginia Farms, through its subsidiary Virginia Farmers Solutions (VFS), partnered with other farmers for contract breeding and growing.
Being in the farming business for over 50 years now, Tambago said they believe that Virginia Farms has already developed the best farming practices and technology when it comes to raising hogs either for breeding or growing.
Through that knowledge and expertise, he said they can help raise the bar in terms of swine farming by engaging the local farmers as partners under Virginia Farms.
A partner farm is assured of the best technical support from Virginia Farms including genetics, nutrition and management. The harvested livestock will all be bought by Virginia Farms, making their businesses more sustainable
"The advantage is that we have The Pork Shop where we can readily sell the meat to the consumers, so the farmers will no longer worry about how to sell their hogs. Also, because these farms are our partners, follows our technology, we are assured of the quality of the meat that we sell to our customers," Tambago said.
The Pork Shop, which first opened in 2008, is currently the market leader in Cebu with 43 branches already operating mostly in the Metro Cebu area and employing at least 600 people. 10 more branches are set to open this year.
"We recently opened two branches. One in Liloan, Cebu and another in Maribago in Mactan Island last month. We will continue to open more shops within Cebu this year, at the same time expand in other regions," Tambago said.
He said they hope to replicate their success in Cebu, guided by the same principle of providing only guaranteed quality pork for the household in other regions starting with key economic areas.
"So, there are three things we'd like to achieve -- provide quality pork, provide job opportunities to the locals and raise the standards in pig farming in every place that we plan to expand," Tambago said.
In the short term, he said they are looking to open a total of 10 branches in Panay Island within 2020, as well as open branches in other cities and provinces in Mindanao and Luzon.
Virginia Farms Inc. is currently the biggest integrated "farm-to-pork" swine business in Central Visayas, with base operations in Cebu since 1968 in a 360-hectare farm property located in Asturias, Cebu.
For now, all pork products distributed to the two branches in Iloilo City will come from Cebu City.
Tambago said they will soon look into the swine market of Iloilo City and Province and possibly invest in the construction of their high-end slaughterhouse with their swine products to provide quality pork in Iloilo.
Tambago said the Visayas, including Iloilo and Cebu, is still ASF-free. (SunStar Philippines)