‘New normal’ forces local businesses to innovate

(SunStar file photo)

BUSINESSES in Cebu have been forced to adapt since President Rodrigo Duterte declared the entire Luzon area under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on March 16, 2020, which disrupted the supply of goods from the north.

So news of the ECQ being extended for another two weeks didn’t faze local businessmen.

“It cannot be worse than where we are now, but will only get better because while the ECQ is extended, they have also learned from their missteps and had loosened up the bottlenecks on the flow of the supply of essential goods and services,” said Steven Yu, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president.

Companies instituted new rules that smoothened the flow of essential items even before the extension, he said.

Cebu is home to several manufacturers of processed foods, but most personal care items like shampoos are sourced from Luzon, he said.

However, Yu said they remain confident that the supply of these items will not run out because when people stay at home, they may take only one bath a day instead of two.

He said it is a fact that locators at the Mactan Economic Zone are producing only 30 to 50 percent of their capacity due to the shortage of raw materials from abroad.

However, he said the situation will improve over time albeit not beyond 80 percent of their production in the short term.

“A new ‘normal’ has dawned upon the world and we have to accept this new reality and make little adjustments,” Yu said.

Meanwhile, Robert Go, Philippine Retailers Association spokesman, said Cebu will have to depend on local production and local manufacturing companies.

The lockdown in Luzon has trickled the flow of goods to Cebu, which sourced 90 percent of its food from Manila manufacturers, he said.

Like Yu, Go pointed out that most toiletries, hair care and skin care products are shipped in from Manila.

“Their manufacturing is at 50 percent capacity since most of their workers cannot reach their factories or afraid of Covid-19. Their logistics are difficult because they have local government border closure and factories are either in Laguna, Bulacan, Los Banos, Valenzuela and Malabon,” Go said.

He said the important thing is staple products like rice, oil, sugar and corn are sourced locally with rice importers and oil factories based here in Cebu, Negros or Mindanao.

“We also have three canned food processors in Cebu, which is the support for Cebu nowadays, and a sanitizer factory. Sardines are available from Zamboanga and noodles from some parts of Mindanao. These are supporting Cebu now,” he said

Go said Cebu is not fully self-sufficient yet but when local manufacturers were forced to pick up the slack to meet local demand, it helped local businesses survive. (JOB)


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