It isn’t every day that a medium-scale company will go to great lengths to ensure that its entire production line is on equal footing with its Asian counterparts.

Then again, homegrown RDF Feed, Livestock & Foods, Inc. (RDFFLFI) is more than your usual livestock and meat producer. RDFFLFI is a medium-scale agri-food system enterprise that has an integrated food supply chain that includes livestock breeding, feed manufacturing, meat processing, and distribution to food service delivery. Although it is a relatively young player in the industry, with only 28 years of experience under its belt compared to its counterparts, RDFFLFI’s sophisticated operations makes it more than ready to meet the demands of a free flowing market brought about by the ASEAN Economic Community.

Aside from its modernized food supply chain, RDFFLFI’s adherence to the strictest levels of international meat and food safety procedures ensure that all its products can hold their own in the region.

International Standards for Domestic Market 

Based in the city of San Fernando in Pampanga province, RDFFLFI has meticulously taken steps so that Filipino homes and local business owners have access to superior meat and meat products that are at par with those imported from and produced overseas. RDFFLFI has constantly benchmarked itself against foreign counterparts and the ASEAN economic integration guidelines to ensure that its products are sufficient, sustainable, safe, and of high quality.

RDF Feed, Livestock & Foods, Inc. (RDFFLFI) president and CEO Dr. Robert Lo (center) with his staff.

It takes more than automating systems and adopting ASEAN integration protocols to truly make a dent in changing the way Filipinos eat. As the only company-owned and company operated (CO-CO) agri-food system business in the Philippines, RDFFLFI is able to maintain top-notch production standards across the whole supply chain by combining integration and innovation in their manufacturing practices, which guarantee customers fresh meat and other meat products that are safe, high quality, and give value for money.

The CO-CO system allows RDFFLFI’s team to closely monitor each stage of the production process. From its pool of expert veterinarians and food technologists, customized first-class feeds and veterinary goods, slaughterhouses and processing plants with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, and efficient delivery systems, RDFFLFI’s streamlined organization ensures the manufacture of a consistently superior product. The company is among the very few in the local industry that immediately adopted HACCP standards when it started operations.

RDFFLFI is recognized for its astuteness and sensitivity to market needs. This has led to various product innovations such as its pre-cooked and cooked food that are best sellers for on-the-go city workers looking for convenient and affordable meals. This reflects its corporate mission of continuously satisfying the changing needs of the market by bringing in the highest quality food products while offering customized service experience that exceeds expectations.

A RDFFLFI staff member at work at the company’s feedmill.

The company also implemented an advanced waste management system and delved into the use of biogas alternative fuel to minimize its carbon footprint. As a result, RDFFLFI earned its first carbon credit from the Kyoto Protocol back in 2003.

The company was also awarded an IBM enterprise-level IT system grant in 2009, which propelled its process efficiency and distribution channels to new heights. The utilization of the Instant Quick Freezing method further bolstered the company’s food safety standards. This blast freezing technique quickly locks in the freshness of the meat at the production plant while preserving its quality and taste.

Homegrown Brand Goes ASEAN

RDFFLFI can credit its deep understanding of consumer needs to its long years of work in the industry. This homegrown business traces its humble beginnings to 1985 when its president and CEO Robert Lo embarked on commercial quail egg production after a brief stint as a veterinary medicine doctor and instructor at the University of the Philippines. To further augment his quail egg business, the veterinarian cum entrepreneur engaged in poultry contract growing, supplying chickens to various established food distributors. Lo’s poultry business expanded to four farms but this rapid growth abruptly halted in 1991 when Mount Pinatubo erupted. His poultry farms, along with his dreams, were buried in lahar.

Three years later, Lo tried his hand again in the poultry business and started managing his own farms. This time, he brought production levels a step higher by installing feed mills inside each farm. This innovation was providential as the in-house feed mills ensured that the chickens ate
quality feeds. It also kept RDFFLFI’s production costs down throughout the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

This success encouraged Lo to diversify and expand operations. A year later, RDFFLFI began its swine business unit, which included four farms located in the provinces of Tarlac and Pampanga. The swine farms included breeding, farrowing, and fattening operations. Naturally, to keep up with their increasing livestock numbers, the company expanded its feed mill and veterinary products operations.

Ensuring that RDFFLFI’s entire production line is on equal footing with its Asian counterparts, process inspection and strict levels of international meat and food safety procedures are constantly implemented.

By 2005, the company’s success in livestock production paved the way for RDFFLFI’s meat production, sales, and retail unit through its subsidiary, the Fresh Options meat shop. These retail stores carried pork, chicken meat, and meat products that were bred, raised, dressed, processed, and delivered in-house. Aside from these, RDFFLFI’s Fresh Options also sold beef, marinated meat, and ready-to-cook food.

Fresh Options Meatshop has established its presence in Metro Manila and the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna. It has also became the trusted meat and meat products supplier of different hotels and resorts in Luzon, including big name restaurant chains, upscale coffee shops, and food stall franchises.

To provide even better access to high-quality food from farm to table, the company also ventured into full-scale restaurants and cafés such as Roberto’s Coffee and Tea and Meats & Match.

Given its history of high production standards and delivery procedures, as well as the consistent production of globally-competitive products, it won’t be surprising if RDFFLFI soon becomes a common household name and the benchmark for other enterprises within and outside the country.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2016 issue.