DAVAO CITY — Supermarket sales for brown rice increased during the public health emergency, making up for the drop in demand from corporate clients, according to Sun Made Brown Rice producer Mindanao Agri Network Corp. (MANCOR).

Carlo C. Lorenzana, vice-president of MANCOR, said orders from major supermarket chains were higher during the strict lockdown months between mid-March and May.

The company also tapped online shops Pacific Bay and Hometown Grocer for distribution.

“So we were able to partly make up for the dip in (big volume) trade sales, but not completely,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Mr. Lorenzana said the boost in retail demand allowed the company to stay on time with payments to partner farmers, who needed cash as the lockdown coincided with the peak harvest season.

“We are obligated to honor our agreements with them. The core of our social enterprise where we assist farmers in planting premium palay (unmilled rice) for production of Sun Made brown… and we purchase these palay directly from them,” he said.

He added that rice farmers in general did not feel the health and economic blow of the pandemic as rural areas remained largely safe from the outbreak.

“Farmers in other areas were also able to increase the selling price of palay due to the high demand brought about by the municipal ordinances during the lockdown that restricted the selling of goods within their respective areas,” he explained.

MANCOR is currently exploring new revenue streams while adjusting to the health safety protocols in both office and mill operations.

“We view things now as the ‘next normal,’ meaning it’s the next phase of life for the whole world. So for our social enterprise, we need to adapt and evolve for the changing times,” Mr. Lorenzana said. — Maya M. Padillo