MANILA - Furniture maker IKEA said it was looking at sourcing produce by Filipino farmers for its restaurant, as it prepares to open its store in Manila next year, an official of the company said Wednesday.
George Platzer, IKEA's Southeast Asia development manager, said the company was in talks with farmers from Baguio and Southern Luzon about supplying the restaurant in its store, which is expected to open in late 2020 at the Mall of Asia complex.
"We're going to source organic food for our customers here in the Philippines," Platzer said in an interview with ANC's Early Edition.
He noted however that IKEA was unlikely to source local materials for its furniture business.
He said the company cannot immediately source raw materials from the Philippines because it was still unclear if local suppliers can scale up to service IKEA's global operations.
"In the beginning, I don't think we'll be able to sell any products produced in the Philippines because if we find a supplier, then usually the supplier should supply the entire world," Platzer said.
He explained that finding local suppliers of materials like wood and natural fibers will also "take a longer time" because IKEA was very strict with its "sustainability" requirements.
IKEA only uses wood from suppliers who have been certified for environmental sustainability, he said.
"So if there is no certified sustainable forestry, we have a challenge to find the right suppliers," Platzer said.
Besides environmental considerations, Platzer said IKEA is also very strict with its suppliers in terms of labor rights like wages and leisure time, and will not deal with companies that use child labor.
IKEA is set to open its largest store in the world in the Philippines next year, which will employ 500 staff initially, with another 500-700 employees tapped through its supply chain.
The store will carry 9,000 products and it will also include a warehouse, an e-commerce facility and an integrated call center.