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Keeping things chill

AT COLD Storage, the world is at your fingertips — provided you’d be okay with getting it being chilled first.

Cold Storage seafood began in 1996, and while they are distributed in about 180 supermarkets across Manila and Cebu  — and, according to Cold Storage president Marco Qua, son of founder Mariano Qua during their branch blessing on May 26, they’re on their way to expand operations in Davao — their two main branches are in Banawe, Quezon City, and in San Juan.

The Banawe branch was dressed up and relaunched last week, and refrigerators showed off their products: premier frozen seafood, sourced from North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia; frozen and sealed in plastic bags. “My father Mariano Qua was visiting Singapore and he witnessed the possibilities for our seafood industry,” said the younger Mr. Qua in a speech.  “My father believed that every Filipino deserves to taste the best of the world.”

Recently, the Quas have also begun selling meat products, such as 100% Black Angus steaks (Mr. Qua is a fan).

During an interview with BusinessWorld, Mr. Cua discussed how they were able to survive for more than 20 years. “We source directly from producers. We don’t go through traders. We get the best quality at the cheapest price possible.”

The fish is caught, immediately blast-frozen, then shipped to the Philippines to be processed and repacked in their facilities. “Once you thaw it, it’s as good as freshly-caught,” said Mr. Qua. “Since we work directly with producers, if there are any quality problems, we can talk to them kaagad (immediately),” he said. “We never cut corners, and we don’t do as much marketing — until lately.”

Several hotel and restaurant chains get their seafood from Cold Storage, as well as some airlines. Still, with them in the center of this large supply chain, does receiving it frozen compromise the quality of the product, when the world is obsessed with freshness? “Sometimes, I prefer frozen over fresh,” said Mr. Qua. The freezing process preserves the fish at its prime, while with fresh fish, sometimes they’re transported over long distances in inadequate chilled (as opposed to freezing) temperatures. “The product’s quality deteriorates faster,” he said in a mixture of English and Filipino.

On how the fish should be treated once it reaches the customer’s home, he makes an important point: “We don’t like drastic changes (in temperature),” he said. The fish should be air-thawed at room temperature, not soaked in warm water — or microwaved — lest the fish’s quality be compromised.

Last year, they renovated their San Juan branch, also to much buzz. Asked about this new vigor (and dressed up facilities), Mr. Qua pointed to eating patterns formed during the pandemic. “During the pandemic, people were hoarding frozen seafood as if it were essential,” he said. “There’s so much potential. We just need to put our message out there.”

Cold Storage’s Banawe branch is located at #764 Banawe S., Quezon City, with phone number 8732-3663. They’re also available at Shopee and Lazada at https://shopee.ph/coldstorageseafood and https://s.lazada.com.ph/s.g21sk. — Joseph L. Garcia