The company said this can be achieved without the need for preservatives, and improves the local product’s marketability while potentially jumpstarting growth of the carabao industry.
The carabao is a water buffalo native to the Philippines.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang made the announcement months after it first helped carabao farmer cooperatives mitigate financial losses at the height of pandemic restrictions last year, when it bought up their excess milk inventory.
As a result, thousands of liters of fresh carabao milk were saved from being dumped and were instead donated to poor communities.
Ang said for the past few months, SMC’s San Miguel Packaging Group had been working to help carabao farmers find a solution on how to preserve the freshness of their product.
Recently, the company was able to finalize a packaging solution using “retort” technology. The process allows fresh carabao milk to be sterilized in aluminum cans without the need for preservatives. The process extends carabao milk’s shelf life for up to six months.
“This will be a major boost for carabao farmers and the carabao industry in general. The main limitation—perishability - that kept farmers from maximizing their income and growing their business, has been solved. Now, their products can be sold to more consumers in more markets,” Ang said.
“Carabao milk is very nutritious so there is a big market for it. We see this as potentially jumpstarting growth of the carabao industry. We look forward to continue helping them in any way we can to further grow their industry.”
Ang said that the company invested in new equipment at its beverage filling facility in San Fernando, Pampanga, to equip it for the new retort process. The process can also be used for a variety of beverage products, including teas, coffee, soya, and other milk-based products.
While utilizing the retort process is new to the company, the aluminum cans it has been producing have long been capable of being utilized for retort.
Ang said the company is open to farmers, farmer cooperatives, and small producers of similar products, who may want to learn more about the process, and engage San Miguel’s packaging unit as a packaging provider to grow their business.
“We are more than eager to work with and help small producers. At the end of the day, this technology was developed with our farmers and entrepreneurs in mind, to help them through this critical period, as the economy is still not what it was. By providing them a way to distribute their products to more customers, we’re hoping to help them stay in business, grow their industry, and support food security for our country as we deal with the pandemic,” Ang said.