Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Keeping It Cool: Partnerships and cooperation during the pandemic

 

Frozen food delivered to each Alfamart store is handled by Royale Cold Storage, a Bulacan-based cold chain logistics provider. They have the first and only FSSC 22000-certified cold storage facility in the country, ensuring world-class safety and cleanliness. 

Six months into Community Quarantine, most Filipinos are still adjusting to the repercussions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Different industries have adjusted at their own pace, with some choosing to slow down their activities and be more cautious. 


 

The food production and sales industry were, and still are, more challenged with the adjustments. Consumers still need to eat, therefore farms still need to produce. And with more people staying at home and cooking their meals, demand for frozen food (especially meats) also increased, so stores still need to keep their inventories well stocked.

 

For Alfamart, the first and only Super Minimart chain in the Philippines, it was an opportunity to work better with trusted business partners, as it needed to ensure that the company’s nearly-1000 stores across Luzon had ample stocks to serve their respective communities. 

 

“No matter how tough food logistics is during times like these, there will always be ways to do what must be done, especially with trusted business partners. We just have to be willing to do it,” said Gerry Lugapo, Alfamart AVP for Supply Chain.

 

Lugapo also emphasized how their partnership with Royale Cold Storage (RCS), their cold chain logistics provider since 2019, made it easier to maintain a stable food supply. “We always want to give the best quality products to our customers, so we knew we could count on [RCS’s] cold storage, delivery facilities, and expertise as the quarantines went on,” he added.

 

Alfamart only sources its meats from National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS)-accredited suppliers. These are then loaded onto RCS’s reefer vans (or trucks with built-in freezers), which are all NMIS-accredited as well.

 

Even before the pandemic, RCS always handled Alfamart’s food -- especially meats -- with the most stringent hygiene protocols, and even more so now. According to Joey C. Tongson, CEO of RCS, they had to mobilize all their available manpower to maintain their high quality of service amid the pandemic, “RCS immediately engaged and mobilized its workers to stay full-time inside the plant to serve Alfamart, ensuring that Alfamart operations would be continuous and unhampered,” Tongson said. “In addition, we provided them with everything they needed--food, lodging, and, of course, new protective and safety equipment,” he continued.

 

Tongson stressed the importance of taking pride in what you do to make customers, clients, and partners both happy and safe.

 

“Under our ‘New Normal’ protocol, RCS workers will continue wearing masks, using face shields, practicing hand washing and social distancing. RCS will continue to use foot baths and perform temperature checks of all our employees and visitors entering the plant,” he said. “We foresee that these new practices will continue even after we go back to the pre-pandemic levels,” he concluded.

 

On Alfamart’s side, the biggest challenge was transporting the food through different geographic areas with their own curfews and quarantine guidelines.  “We had to plan every route well with RCS,” Lugapo said. “We had to coordinate with each and every LGU, down to the barangay level, so that we would not break any rules regarding curfews, checkpoints, personnel hygiene standards, and paperwork requirements,” he explained.

 

“Both in business and in serving the communities, everything is made better by a group effort,” Lugapo stressed. “We are so glad that we have partners like RCS and our other collaborators to ensure that our customers, and the communities we serve, are happy,” he concluded.

 

To know how businesses can work together with Alfamart stores please visit https://www.alfamart.com.ph/do-business-with-us/.

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