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How's the Economy Doing? Look for Hotdogs and Beer

Food bills tell one side of the story.
by Joel Guinto
Nov 5, 2020
Hotdog is grilled by the roadside in Manila in this photo taken on Nov. 5, 2020. Meat inflation is up, so are beer shipments according to third quarter government and market data. It's an indication of the state of the consumer economy after eight months of coronavirus quarantine.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano
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Filipinos are consuming more meat and spirits as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease, government and market data released Thursday showed. Based on food and beverage demand, this is where the economy stands after nearly eight months of quarantine.

Restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and public transport have begun to operate at higher capacities while local governments have started lifting liquor bans, all preconditioned on the strict wearing of face masks and face shields on top of physical distancing.

Food prices rose at a faster pace in October, after five straight months of deceleration, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. Food inflation was at 2.1%, driving headline inflation to 2.5% from 2.3% in the previous month. Meat inflation alone was at 4.7% from 2.9% in September.

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San Miguel Food and Beverage said its canned meat segment -- which includes Purefoods corned beef and Tender Juicy hotdogs and SPAM -- grew by double digits in the quarter ended September. People are still stocking up their pantries.

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Its beer unit, San Miguel Brewery, shipped 54 million cases in the third quarter, more than double the 26.4 million cases in the previous quarter, according to a stock exchange filing. However, it was still lower compared to the third quarter of 2019.

Jerome Ascano

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"This is an encouraging development that proves we are on track to recovery. We came out of the quarter confident in the resilience of our businesses and determined to deliver on our commitment to continue helping fight the pandemic and the country heal," San Miguel CEO Ramon Ang said.

Overall, consolidated revenues at San Miguel's food group dropped 14% to P194.6 billion.

Last week, Robinsons Retail Holdings reported a nine-month net income of P2.4 billion, adding third-quarter results indicate that the "worst may have passed" for the retail sector. There were "significant improvements" across all of its platforms, said CEO Robina Gokongwei-Pe.

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The Philippines, like the rest of the world, is in a recession due to the indeifinite lockdown that has been in place since March.

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While quarantine classifications remain the same at GCQ or the second lowest in Metro Manila, more restrictions are easing. Filipinos can now travel abroad for leisure and hotels can accept staycationers.

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