Universal Robina Corp. (URC) has proven itself as a true multinational company, with consumer products that are now mainstays in millions of shelves across the globe.
Among the company’s market leaders abroad are its Fun-O biscuits and Tivoli wafers in Thailand. Its C2 ready-to-drink brewed tea also remains a top seller in Vietnam.
“We have the passion for producing great products and great global brands,” said Irwin Lee, URC’s president and CEO.
URC attributes its strong performance in markets abroad to distribution networks anchored on their strong ties with their retailers.
In Thailand, for instance, its subsidiaries directly service 7-Eleven outlets, as well as supermarkets operated by Makro, Tesco Lotus and Big C, apart from having wholesalers and roving sales staff.
All its products, meanwhile, meet the highest standards wherever they are sold, with facilities that are ISO- and HACCP-certified.
Raw materials are rigorously tested. Only suppliers and distributors with proven track records in quality and efficiency are used.
URC has been venturing into markets abroad since the early ‘70s when it entered Hong Kong. In the 1980s, it put up its first overseas factory in Malaysia. In the same decade, the company entered Singapore, where it now offers popular Filipino snacks such as Potato Chips, Roller Coaster, Dewberry, Cream O and Magic.
The company set foot in Thailand in 1992. It has since set up six production plants and research facilities there to sell biscuits, wafers, candies and snacks, both domestically and for export. This was followed by Indonesia in 2002, where it now has two factories and over 700 employees.
URC began its operations in Vietnam in 2004 and introduced C2 in 2006. URC Vietnam now runs five manufacturing facilities with over 1,500 employees producing Dynamite candies and Cream-O cookies, among others.
URC set up operations in Myanmar in 2015, where it produces and sells cookies, crackers and wafers under the Fun O and Magic brands.
URC is also present in China, where it sells cereals, oats, chips and coffee under the Aces brand. In Hong Kong, it offers snacks, chips, chocolate bars, cookies, coffee, biscuits and muesli bars.
“We capitalized on lifted trade barriers to realign capabilities and manufacture products where economies exist,” said Lee.
Lee added that once operations in markets abroad began, URC quickly managed to achieve synergies and make better use of the assets it acquired.
The company then worked on ensuring use of only quality materials at low cost via strategic regional procurement.
URC’s products have been exported across the globe, with Piattos, Chippy, Roller Coaster, Mang Juan, C2, Great Taste and Magic faring well in the Americas, the European Union, and the Middle East.
That has been in large part due to the large presence of overseas Filipinos in these regions.
The company’s reach even extends to Mongolia, East Africa and the Pacific Islands.
Lee said the past year had been challenging because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Everyone across the globe has been affected. Naturally, our markets abroad also went through difficult times, as various forms of quarantine restrictions were put in place.”
Lee added, “but we’re happy to report that we’ve managed to adjust and cope with this new normal. We’ve minimized both disruptions to our operations and the impact the restrictions and the ensuing downturn have had on our workforce.”
Lee said URC remains focused on maintaining product quality, even as it ensures ample supply for its customers, wherever they may be.