Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How is La Pacita going?

How is La Pacita going?

Its been few years passed since San Miguel Corporation had took over a lowly yet well known biscuit manufacturer: La Pacita Biscuits.

Known for its Prima toast, Supreme Crackers, Ligaya Cracklets, and various cookies that served Filipinos for decades, La Pacita has been worth remembered by those seeking for a taste of nostalgia, especially amidst the popularity of imported cookies, pastries, and other baked stuff Filipinos encountered.

But at first, this post tackles what goes on that well known La Pacita before it was taken over by San Miguel.

It all started in 1921, when Luis Martinez of San Juan, then part of Rizal Province, set up a biscuits factory known as "La Fabrica de Biscochos y Dulces Biscuits Especiales" at J. Eustaquio st. (then known as Progreso), and from those kitchens produced the well-known brand, which was named after his wife.

Luis Martinez y Cia produced La Pacita's Tostados Prima, Camachile, Club Crackers, and Cream Filled cookies that became favorite snacks for schools and offices, as well as "Pasalubong" treats especially when going to provinces. Besides that, they also produced bread, one of which was a "Pan Americano" enriched with Vitamins. 

And like any other well known brands of the past, La Pacita was heavily advertised in the in the 50s and in the 60s. Magazine ads such as the one above showcased how the Martinez's product was well appreciated as a snack if not a "pasalubong" treat.

However, despite its successes, the patriarch died in 1970. One of don Luis's sons, Felicisimo, took over the management, reorganised, and changed its name to F. Martinez and Co., Inc as part of its transition. In it, it showed how the company, from its lowly yet steady past, had geared for growth and market expansion whilst still producing the familiar Pacensia, as well as Butter Cookies and Raisin Cookies.

And despite economic challenges, La Pacita continued to show signs of growth, especially with the introduction of Snax and Supreme Flakes in the market. The said snacks may have been a counterpart of its competitors, such as M.Y San Skyflakes to those of Nabisco's Ritz crackers.

However, its growth almost cut short, that in 1989 the factory was gutted by fire. This was another challenge that the Martinez family chose not to stop and instead moved foward as they meet the demands of its loyal customers. Felicisimo passed the proprietorship to his son, Manuel, who chose not to change the name but instead kept "F. Martinez and Co., Inc." as La Pacita's manufacturer.
Together with Manuel’s wife Julieta and sons Manuel Jr., Norberto, Edwin, Neil and Manolet, greater opportunities for La Pacita were envisioned and portrayed the way Don Luis and their grandfather "Feling" had tried its best with all its pioneering spirits as bakers and entrepreneurs. There they had rebuilt its facility, acquired some machinery, assembled its employees, and exhorted efforts in continuing La Pacita's growth as a snack manufacturer for both young and old.

And as in the past, La Pacita continued to be well-known not just in local, but also international consumers. As according to an article in the Philippine Star made 13 year ago:

"La Pacita vice president for marketing Manuel V. Martinez Jr. says that although its cookies are positioned as a traditional or ethnic bakery product in many Oriental stores in the United States, it has penetrated the Taiwanese market with its garlic toast.
In the Middle East, its cracklets and mamon tostado are also in great demand. "We can meet the demand for mamon tostado in the Middle East," he says."

But come to think of this, since the Martinez family afforded to keep La Pacita stable and meeting its demands greater, then how come they agreed to have San Miguel take over the family business?

Prior to the acquisition of La Pacita, San Miguel attempted, yet failed in 2014, in a solo bid for British snacks maker United Biscuits which owns the brands Jaffa Cakes and Twiglets.

And since then, San Miguel has instead settled for a local biscuit manufacturer. In a disclosure to the local bourse, the food and beverage unit of San Miguel said it had entered into an intellectual property rights transfer agreement with the Martinez Family that meant the acquisition of La Pacita and be part of San Miguel's food products.

The deal, which was announced in 21st of November 2014 for an undisclosed sum, marks San Miguel's move into the biscuits sector. It even struck a deal to "acquire the trademarks, formulations, recipes and other intangible properties relating to the seller's La Pacita biscuit and flour-based snack business".

Furthermore, as according to Lexter Azurin, he stated that the acquisition will support the flour business of San Miguel, which also produces Hotcake mixes and other pastry ingredients La Pacita also accustomed to.
The acquisition was completed on February 1 of last year, in which San Miguel, through its dairy subsidiary Magnolia Inc., as La Pacita's manufacturer.

The production of that well-known product may've still continue to reach its loyal and new customers, however, from these customers one would say that the said takeover by the food giant few years ago have also created mixed reactions: that some would say that the Martinez family has lost its 90 year old family legacy and others saw San Miguel's acquisition of the said biscuit maker as a chance for the latter for better improvements, especially in pursuit of meeting present and future demands. So are those who would even think that La Pacita under the Martinezes meant "Quality through and through" as what Mang Luis and Lolo Feling had craftily made to its products, and those who saw that with San Miguel it means better opportunities in making La Pacita a good competitor against other biscuit manufacturers both local and abroad.

Sounds debatable isn't it? But for this writer, he would say that La Pacita's continuing legacy of making good biscuits meant a taste of nostalgia for both young and old. And despite having a different manufacturer such as a well-known food giant, La Pacita may have stayed in its goal in which Mang Luis, Lolo Feling may love to say,  that the biscuits has “To be in every pantry on every doorstep of every household”, and its customers be treated not just as customers, but also as part of an ever growing family.