The persistent issues on hunger and food insecurity among Filipinos propel Mega Prime Foods chief executive officer Michelle Tiu Lim- Chan to continuously innovate ways to provide Filipinos with nutritious, affordable and readily available food.
A June 2023 survey released by the World Food Programme showed that one in ten Philippine households are food insecure—a situation worse, ironically, for households engaged in agriculture. The said WFP survey also revealed that Filipinos spend 52% of their household income on food, and that 56% of households said they are concerned about the continued increase in food prices.
Social Weather Stations (SWS), meanwhile, reported in a recent survey that 9.8%, or an estimated 2.7 million Filipinos, experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the first quarter of 2023. SWS also bared that while March 2023 hunger figure is lower than last year’s December and October figures, it is still higher than the 8.8% in December 2019 or before the pandemic.
Being at the helm of Mega Prime Foods, the manufacturing and distribution subsidiary of Mega Global that is best known for the country’s top sardine brand– the Mega Sardines, Tiu Lim-Chan remarked that recent local and global figures point to a greater need to improve and contribute to driving the country’s food production and food security goals.
“We take to heart the core values of the company and foremost among them is ‘malasakit’–our concern for the welfare of our fellow Filipinos. We want to ensure that ” said Tiu Lim-Chan.
Over the years the company has studied the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations in relation to food security and has designed a profound master plan to help the Philippine government end hunger, achieve food security and improve the people’s nutrition.
Michelle Tiu Lim-Chan understood that in order to address the issue head-on, there had to be more than just one approach; that serving affordable canned products is not the only viable contribution it can offer to the Filipino families.
Knowing fairly well that food security is not a single-solution approach, Mega Prime Foods has made its biggest investment to date to build a world-class manufacturing facility that will produce more canned fish, and other packed food products. The facility uses state-of-the-art technology that keeps food nutritious and delicious, not to mention affordable.
“Food security is especially important for a calamity-prone country like the Philippines, which is often visited by strong typhoons and rocked by severe earthquakes. We want to be the company that helps ensure there is affordable and accessible food for Filipinos from all walks of life during times of distress,” Tiu Lim-Chan said.
Canned food, particularly sardines and tuna, can often be found in food packs delivered to emergency shelters during calamities.
Mega Prime Foods Manufacturing Plant opened in Batangas last March, its third manufacturing facility in the country–the first in Luzon—that can produce 11,600 metric tons of canned sardines, or 27 percent of the shortfall in domestic supply. It can process 50 tons of fish a day, equivalent to 600,000 cans of sardines.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also affirmed that Mega Prime Foods’ Batangas factory will greatly contribute to the government’s efforts in ensuring food security and making seafood more convenient to consume for families across the country, especially during times of crises.
Education and Nutrition
For several years now, Mega Prime Foods has also been at the forefront of “Mega Bigay Sustansya”, a 120-day feeding program in several depressed areas, making sure that children are on the right track of their growth milestones.
Meanwhile, the factory in Sto. Tomas, Batangas is also the company’s research and development hub. The plant houses the Mega Sardines “Senses of the Sea” Museum that is set to open in a few months.
“We will continuously look for ways to provide nutritious, delicious and affordable food to our customers and it does not end with manufacturing food products. Involving them and letting them understand that they have choices of nutritious and affordable food goes a long way as far as food security is concerned,” said Tiu Lim-Chan.
The Mega Sardines Museum
Mega Prime Foods launched the innovative and interactive Mega Sardines Museum on August 1. The company aims to educate students and the public about the significance of consuming nutritious food and to showcase the meticulous effort involved in the food manufacturing process.
The tour offers an immersive experience that highlights Mega Sardines’ unique “Catching-to-Canning” process, fostering an understanding of the journey from the sea to the can. By engaging visitors with visually-enriching spaces like the Sardine Catching Room and Production Viewing Deck, the tour emphasizes the importance of marine conservation, fishing innovations, and the nutritional value of sardine products. This educational initiative aligns with Mega Prime Foods’ commitment to enhancing food security in the Philippines by producing affordable, safe, and nutrient-rich seafood products.
Furthermore, Mega Prime Foods’ collaboration with the Department of Tourism Region IV-A and the Philippine Amusement & Entertainment Corporation underscores the tourism potential of the Senses of the Sea tour. Through partnerships and interactive elements like the Seaside Market and workshops, the tour not only educates but also boosts local entrepreneurship and economic growth. The facility’s opening to interested groups and the general public in September 2023 ensures accessibility to a diverse audience, contributing to the broader goal of promoting a self-sufficient food production ecosystem in the country. The launch event, attended by key government officials and stakeholders, serves as a testament to Mega Prime Foods’ role as a pivotal partner in education, tourism, economic development, and food security, exemplifying their dedication to the betterment of Filipino lives and sustainable national progress.