UNIVERSAL Robina Corp. (URC) is opening a rubbing alcohol business as the demand for sanitation products surged due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Gokongwei-led food company said it is diversifying its product line to include two pharmaceutical-grade alcohol brands: Shield+ and BioSure.
The rubbing alcohol business will be handled by URC’s agro-industrial and commodities division. The La Carlota distillery of the company in Negros Occidental will supply the ingredients in the long term.
“This is aligned with our core values of looking after the Filipino community, in light of the ongoing pandemic. We have the capability, and we want to help. There’s demand out there. It just makes sense,” Vincent C. Go, managing director of URC’s agro-industrial group, said in the statement.
URC said that the alcohol category was valued at P4.1 billion last year. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, its sales jumped 76% to P1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2020.
The BioSure products are already being sent out to community stores and institutions early this month, while the Shield+ alcohol brand will begin distribution in December.
As early as July, URC obtained approval from its board of directors to amend its articles of incorporation and include production of pharmaceutical-grade alcohol as its secondary purpose.
The goal is to leverage the company’s sugar distillery facilities in producing bio-ethanol fuel products from sugarcane.
URC generated an attributable net income of P7.5 billion in the first three quarters of the year, higher by 7% than last year, due to lower costs and expenses.
It shares closed at P147.20 apiece on Tuesday, down P4.80 or 3.16% from the last session. — Denise A. Valdez