How 'gata' and robots may be key to Ligo's longevity

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2017 12:58 PM

Ligo sardines, including one stewed in coconut cream, are shown in this photo from the company's Facebook page.

MANILA – Philippine canner Ligo is looking to its owners’ kitchen and robotics to meet evolving tastes and growing demand, its president said Monday.

A love for dishes stewed in coconut cream led to sardines in “gata,” Ligo Sardines president Greg Tung said. The idea, he said, was hatched in a conversation with his wife and children.

“We were thinking there should be something more we could do with fish,” Tung said in an exclusive interview with ANC’s The Boss.

“Why don’t we try how to can fish with coconut cream? We played around with it, found the right combination and processing. Again, it’s a bit expensive, but it’s a good product,” he said.

While Ligo’s best-sellers remain sardines in regular tomato sauce and spicy tomato sauce, Tung said consumer tastes were evolving as they earn more. Aside from fish, Ligo also offers canned meats.

“As a population becomes more and more affluent, there’s a possibility the same market would be upgrading into let’s say high-end products,” he said.

Ligo Sardines President Greg Tung speaks to Cathy Yang for ANC's The Boss

Tung said he was looking to automate almost the entire production process after experiencing labor shortages at its main facility in Zamboanga.

“We have some problems maximizing our capacity due to sometimes, a shortage in labor… We have started looking into automation,” he said.

Ligo is looking at sardine canning that “is almost untouched by hand.”

“Everything will be done mechanically, from the time the fish is delivered to us, cleaned, gutted, put into the can,” he said.