DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 February)– Artisan cheesemaker Olive Puentespina is hoping that things will become rosy for Malagos Farmhouse this year with the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis since almost a year ago.
Puentespina, founder of Malagos Food, Inc., said that Malagos Farmhouse found an opportunity, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to diversify its dairy-based products, to include natural yogurt drink and bottled fresh goat’s milk, to meet the growing demand of the public for healthy products that increase immunity.
“People need more of these alternative products for good gut health. Yogurt answered that and also (fresh goat’s) milk for general wellness,” she said.
Last year, she said that sales went down by 90% as restrictions were imposed on areas where they supplied artisan cheeses.
Malagos distributes its products nationwide, and as quarantine restrictions eased, resumed shipment to Manila weekly, according to Puentespina.
When the Malagos Farmhouse was just starting out in raising dairy animals in early 2000, they only had 25 goats in their farm.
With Puentespina, an alumna of the University of Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) with a degree in Agriculture major in Animal Science, and veterinarian-husband Roberto, they managed to increase the population to over 300 at present.
As the pandemic affected their artisan cheese market, Puentespina said they had to refrain some of the goats from producing milk as these could not be processed due to their scaled down cheese production operation.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Malagos Farmhouse processed 350 to 800 liters of cow’s and goat’s milk daily to make 35 to 150 kilogram of cheeses.
The company has 27 different types of artisan cheeses, many of theme European-style, available at over 90 establishments nationwide, including high-end restaurants, hotels and resorts. The Malagos Farmhouse “Sublime Line” cheese is served in the business class of flag carrier Philippines Airlines.
The Puentespina clan also produces the world-class, award-winning Malagos Chocolates, which put the Philippines in the map of artisan chocolates.
After long lean months, she said that sales are finally picking up for their artisan cheeses.
“I would say it picked up and I hope we don’t go back to where we were (last year) — a “really dark time,” she said
She said the Malagos Farmhouse had to work doubly hard to promote their artisan cheeses to regain the lost retail market when COVID-19 reared its ugly head in the country almost a year ago.
Puentespina said the company is working on strengthening their social media presence to reach their customers again. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)