Faced with the problem of hog oversupply, the farmers of Buklod-Unlad Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BUMC) of Taysan, Batangas ventured into meat processing. But early in its manufacture of processed meat called Cerdo Real, the coop was confronted with yet another oversupply problem, and that is of processed meat products.

But that problem was poised to be solved.

Coop’s beginnings

BUMC was created in June 1991, initially having 44 members from the Malaluan clan as the coop was primarily established for their family. However, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) requires that an organization should be open to non-family members or the public for it to be accredited. This is the reason why BUMC opened the membership to the public in 1993.

BUMC’s membership is comprised of overseas Filipino workers, farmers, and businessmen, among others. The coop obtained its CDA accreditation in 1997.

Mr. Angel Garcia, Chairman of BUMC said that businessmen are crucial in their membership because they help in the capitalization of the cooperative.

The goal of BUMC is to strengthen agriculture and trading by farmers through financing and new farming techniques. In 2008, the cooperative launched its Alagaan Pangkabuhayan, an integrated pig production program which espouses the “from conception to consumption” system of pig production. Some farmer-members are into planting of cassava and corn which the cooperative uses for feed mill. Some of the members too are into hog-raising.

The coop consultant suggested that the coop venture into meat processing, so that its hog raising business will not be adversely affected by the market movements. Thus, when the price of hogs is low, the coop can earn through processed meat products.

Product difference – only high quality, homegrown meat

There may have been many commercial brands of processed meat in the market, but what sets Cerdo Real apart is its absolute capability to use only quality meat for its products. The farmers cultivated cassava for animal feed and raise the hogs themselves. And since in Taysan, Batangas the people do not eat meat from sow (or bulugan or breeding boar), the cop’s meat production is confined to young pork.

Why bulugan is not used in meat processing, Ms. Marivi B. Toriano, in-charge of meat processing division, explained this:

“We don’t use bulugan because it would require use of more preservatives to tenderize the meat. The same with the use of ‘double dead’ meat, it would require certain ingredients that can eliminate the stench.”

That is why the coop uses only home-grown hogs which feed on the farmer’s plants. The coop also does not use imported meat and monosodium glutamate.

The challenge and DOST support

When the coop was still a neophyte in the meat processing business, it could hardly turn up a profit.

“Malaki yung losses kasi malaki yung direct labor. Tapos, marami yung nagrereklamo sa lasa at maraming nasisirang produkto kasi nai-stock lang sa freezer. Kinain lang ng kuryente yung kinita sa produksyon (There have been huge losses due to the cost of direct labor. Many complained on the taste and many products ended up stocked in the freezer. The earnings from production were used up by power cost.),” Santos Malaluan, Jr., director recounted their early experiences.

In 2009, BUMC sought the help of a consultant, a nutritionist who helped achieve consistency in Cerdo Real product’s taste.

The cooperative’s general manager, Rosalinda G. Arellano, said that today, they do not receive complaints anymore, and that their customers are well satisfied with their meat products which are now juicier and more tender.
Their latest best seller is the siomai, a must-try as it hardly contains extenders compared with some brands in the market. Their hotdogs can compete among the leading brands.

Their price is also competitive. Some of their products may be a bit higher by a few pesos, but customers are assured that the meat used in the products are not imported nor “double dead.”

Their consultant who is also into the business of meat processing informed the coop of the packaging services of the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). BUMC quickly availed of ITDI’s assistance in packaging Cerdo Real upon learning of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) of DOST.

SETUP helps SMEs utilize and adopt technological innovations and scientific processes to improve business efficiency and productivity. Through SETUP, BUMC acquired a meat grinder, mixer, cooking vat, vacuum sealer, and freezer. The program also assisted the coop on label design and execution.

The technology support gave a boost on the coop’s efficiency and production. Before SETUP, BUKLOD earned about Php 150,000 from processed meat production, but after SETUP intervention, the coop earned between Php 350,000-400,000. The coop is now producing 2.5 tons of meat products per month.

Toriano said that SETUP had a great impact on their production. The blast freezer, for instance, helped in extending the product’s shelf life. Mixing of meat too is no longer done by hands but by machines. Packaging is the only thing left that they do manually.

The production of pork tapa used to take 6-7 hours with six personnel doing the job. But after SETUP’s assistance, the coop has been producing pork tapa from 30 minutes to one hour, with only four personnel manning.

At the outset, this increase in efficiency and production may have resulted in less people working, which may seem like a bad news. But not so, said Malaluan. Since they are now producing at a faster rate, with all these equipment contributing to the overall product improvement, more farmers joined to raise more hogs.

There is now great demand for Cerdo Real products, so the coop has to raise more hogs. The farmer-members are now earning more from hog-raising and slaughter operation.

“Natuto na kami, ngayon ginagawa namin yung mabebenta, hindi na kami nag-stock ng sobra (We have learned, now we produce on the basis of what can be consumed, we no longer produce excessively.),” Malaluan cited a learning from their previous experiences.

Cerdo Real is being sold in Region IV, but the coop recently got an accreditation to sell in the National Capital Region.

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