URC, Hong Kong-based Vitasoy to bring plant-based drinks to PH

MANILA, Philippines ­– Gokongwei-led local food manufacturer Universal Robina Corporation (URC) set up a joint venture with Hong Kong's Vitasoy Group to sell plant-based drinks to the Philippine market.

Vitasoy Group CEO Roberto Guidetti said the joint venture will focus initially on exploring the potential of the local market.

"Whilst confident that the long-term consumer trends are very favorable, we consider the Philippines a very developed, competitive, and diversified market which will require diligent study and learning to ensure that the JV portfolio offering will best serve the needs and desires of the Filipino community," Guidetti said in a statement announcing the partnership on Thursday, February 16.

Established in 1940 in Hong Kong, Vitasoy is a leading international manufacturer and distributor of food and beverages focused on sustainable plant-based nutrition. Its products include soy and other types of plant milk, such as coconut milk and almond milk, as well as tofu under the VITASOY brand.

Besides plant milk, it also offers a variety of teas, juices, distilled water, and other beverages under the VITA brand.

Vitasoy has manufacturing operations in Hong Kong, China, Australia, and Singapore, and sells to more than 40 markets globally. It has a market capitalization exceeding $2 billion as of end-January 2017.

The group's total revenue has a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11%, having increased from HK$3.7 billion in FY2011/12 to HK$5.6 billion in FY2015/16. Over that period, revenue of its Hong Kong operations grew at a CAGR of 6% while other overseas operations grew at a CAGR of 14% in total.

Fitting in with expansion

"We see a perfect fit in this joint venture, as both URC and Vitasoy are companies that strive to promote both consumer well-being and sustainable nutrition," said URC president and CEO Lance Gokongwei.

"Vitasoy is an innovative company, a reliable employer, and a responsible corporate citizen dedicated to providing food and beverages that are compatible with a healthy lifestyle to communities and to creating value for its shareholders," he added.

URC, the food and beverage arm of JG Summit Holdings Incorporated, is aggressively expanding both here and abroad. It set aside P7.2 billion to 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. 

Last year, URC acquired Australia's second largest snack producer in a bid to expand its presence in Oceania. – Rappler.com