Binibining Pilipinas

Po family buys Hunt’s license from Gokongweis

Chrisee Dela Paz

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Po family buys Hunt’s license from Gokongweis
While the Gokongwei group's Universal Robina focuses on its main brands, Po family-led Century Pacific forays into branded categories outside its core segments of marine, meat, and milk

MANILA, Philippines – Century Pacific Food Incorporatedthe giant canned food company behind Century Tuna, is buying the Philippine license for Hunt’s, a Western brand that has long made its way onto local grocery store shelves.

The makers of Century Tuna told the local bourse on Tuesday, May 2, that it is acquiring Hunt’s license from Hunt-Universal Robina Corporation (HURC), a joint venture between Gokongwei-led Universal Robina and ConAgra Foods, a North American giant packaged food company.

Po family-led Century Pacific said it will buy the rights to manufacture, sell, and distribute Hunt’s branded products in the Philippines, which include pork & beans, tomato-based spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and marinade sauce.

The acquisition will also include the transfer of manufacturing assets and inventory. (READ: How the makers of Century Tuna stay afloat amid changing tastes)

Century Pacific did not disclose the amount.

“We are excited about expanding our portfolio with brands and products that resonate with Filipino consumers,” Century Pacific president and chief executive officer Christopher Po said in the statement.

“Hunt’s is a welcome addition with its local dominance in pork & beans, its emerging presence in condiments, and its potential to be another source of growth for us.”

This adds to its portfolio of well-known brands like Century Tuna, 555, Blue Bay, Fresca, Argentina, Swift, Wow, Lucky 7, Angel, Birch Tree, Kaffe de Oro, Home Pride, and Kamayan shrimp paste.

It was in 2016 when Century Pacific acquired the Kamayan trademark for North America, which represented the company’s initial foray into branded categories outside its core segments of marine, meat, and milk.

Today, Hunt’s maintains an expanded product portfolio and dominates the ready-to-eat canned beans category with an 86% market share locally.

“We are excited to work with ConAgra to further grow the brand locally,” Po said.

Universal Robina focusing on core

For Universal Robina, the sale of the Hunt’s license will allow it to refocus its food portfolio on snack foods and beverages.

In a separate disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Universal Robina president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said his company is conducting a review of its food portfolio.

“We have recently conducted a strategic review of our portfolio and have shifted our focus on our core categories, namely snack foods and beverages which are geared towards convenience and on-the-go occasions,” Gokongwei said.

Given this shift, Universal Robina and its joint venture partner, ConAgra, have decided to spin off the Hunt’s brand to Century Pacific Food.

“We believe that their strength in the grocery category can further add value and take the Hunt’s business to new levels of growth in the years to come,” Gokongwei added.

Last year, Universal Robina bought Australia’s second largest salty snacks maker Snack Brands Australia for AU$600 million (US$460.55 million or P21.38 billion), in a bid to eat up a bulk of the Oceania market.

The food manufacturing giant is allotting P7.2 billion for its capital spending budget this year, mainly to expand its facilities here and abroad. It will construct a factory building in Malaysia, a candy plant in Thailand, a biscuit line in Indonesia, bottle-making equipment in Vietnam, and a mega warehouse in the Philippines. –

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