FOOD AND BEVERAGE (F&B) companies that have participated in the government’s export promotion initiatives plan to shift their focus to the domestic market even after the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).

Among 141 respondents to a survey completed on June 5, 41.9% plan to focus on volume sales in the domestic market and 33.8% plan to sell directly to individual consumers.

A quarter or 24.3% plan to sell by volume to the export market.

The top export target market is the Americas, followed by Europe, the Middle East and Japan.

The respondents are CITEM clients who have joined its export promotion activities, CITEM Signature Events Team Division Chief Rowena G. Mendoza said in an e-mail. More than 60% of the businesses are food manufacturers that are either direct or indirect exporters.

Nearly a hundred respondents said that domestic sales are a “high priority,” while 65 said the same of export markets.

Top operational priorities were health and sanitation as well as production, with 92 and 86 respondents named these two as priorities.

More than half of 91 respondents are considering joining CITEM events “as soon as the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) crisis is under control.”

Among those who do not plan to participate, 78.4% cited budget constraints. The next most-cited factors are low production capacity and manpower shortages.

Around half of the respondents say they expect to fully recover in six months to a year, while 37.6% said they expect to recover within three to six months.

Some of the top problems encountered by the businesses during the lockdown included a drop in demand and logistical challenges.

To adapt, businesses worked on complying with new health rules, health regulations, implemented flexible work arrangements and developed online marketing strategies. — Jenina P. Ibañez