THE PACKAGING unit of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has partnered with the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) for a nationwide milk feeding program that will utilize its new packaging solution.

SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said in a statement that the company’s San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp. (SMYPC) will be a third-party toll packer that will use its retort process to package 40,000 liters of carabao milk from farmer cooperatives in Nueva Ecija.

Equivalent to 4 million cans of sterilized carabao milk, Mr. Ang said the products will be distributed in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and areas in the Cordillera Administrative Region as part of the school-based feeding program under the Department of Education and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“We are very happy that almost one year since we promised to help the carabao cooperatives, we will now see both farmers and our school children benefit from this worthy endeavor,” Mr. Ang said in the statement.

Mr. Ang said that with the use of retort process, the shelf life of carabao milk will last up to six months without preservatives, compared to a previous shelf life of seven days using flexible packaging.

He added that carabao milk can reach more children in need of nutritional support due to the longer shelf life of the product, adding that it can be easily transported and can be stored under ambient temperature.

“At the same time, this will boost the livelihood of local dairy farmers who have always been looking for ways to keep carabao’s milk fresh and prevent spoilage,” Mr. Ang said.

According to SMC, carabao milk will be consolidated by PCC from dairy cooperatives in Nueva Ecija and will be delivered to SMYPC’s facility in San Fernando, Pampanga for sterilization and packaging.

From the Pampanga facility, the milk will be delivered to schools division offices to be distributed to the beneficiaries.

In 2020, dairy cooperatives assisted by the PCC committed to give milk to 503,955 children. Currently, some 1.01 million children are benefiting from carabao milk provided by the cooperatives, with supply set to increase after SMC’s initiative.

Previously, SMC also helped dairy farmers by purchasing excess carabao milk used for donation to poor communities and promised to help create a packaging format to make the product more marketable.

“It is through meaningful and sustainable programs like this that we will empower various sectors to not just weather the impacts of the pandemic, but have more opportunities to grow in the future,” Mr. Ang said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave