Filipino-Chinese tycoon Carlos Chan has built a snackfood manufacturing powerhouse in mainland China and is arguably the most successful Chinoy to make his mark in the industrial segment there.
But he isn’t resting on his laurels.
This April, Chan’s Liwayway Marketing Corp.—maker of the Oishi food brand—is set to open a new manufacturing hub in southern India.
The new factory, which took about two years for Oishi to get up-and-running, is located at Bangalore—India’s take on Silicon Valley. The group is likewise starting to set up operations in Cambodia, Liwayway vice president for finance Enrique Oliver Rey-Matias said in a recent manufacturing forum organized by Asia Society Philippines.
Not too many people appreciate the industrial business of the low-profile Chan (some probably know more about his brother Ben Chan, also a successful entrepreneur in the retailing field) because it is closely held and difficult to value.
Suffice to say, he could easily be as big as some of the tycoons on the Forbes’ list of Philippine billionaires. Oishi, which started its industrial ventures in 1974, has since set up 15 factories in China, four in the Philippines, four in Vietnam and one each in Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. India will be its eighth market in the region.
Because its products are bulky, Oishi manufactures where the customers are, thus explaining this geographical distribution of its factories.
These days, Oishi is among the top two players in snackfoods in the Philippines and China. It is No. 1 in Vietnam and Myanmar, Rey-Matias said. But because it is a late-comer in Thailand and Indonesia, the ranking is closer to fifth.
Those eager to see a company of this stature listed on the stock exchange, whether here or abroad, may be disappointed. The company is reluctant to do so because it prefers market share over profits, and thus does not want to be in constant pressure of showing rising profits—something it needs to do as a listed company.
In India, Oishi will compete head-on with a handful of Indian and international companies. But Rey-Matias said this initial venture is just like paying tuition fee to learn more about a market with over a billion population.