No less than the No. 1 Philippine conglomerate, San Miguel Corporation (SMC), is widening its online reach for its varied processed food products that include a line of dry dog food called Nutri Chunks.

With headquarters in Manila, the current center of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, San Miguel like any business in the capital is dealing with operational challenges brought about by six uninterrupted months of quarantine. One clear solution they are taking is to work with Southeast Asia's top online shopping markets such as Shopee, Lazada and Zalora, as well as other popular online selling platforms to make Nutri Chunks available to more customers especially those still under strict quarantine.

With an omnichannel digital retail strategy, SMC also added Nutri Chunks to its brands featured at its own online store called The Mall, in its separate online portal for SMC food products and in its online ordering site for home delivery service. Nutri Chunks come in at least five varieties for adult dogs and puppies that cater to their different types of dietary needs, and are available in bags weighing from 1.3 kilos to 20 kilos.

Other conglomerates expanding online

Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., which was at  No. 10 in a 2018 business ranking of Philippine conglomerates, is also filling up digital stores with its dog food called Maxime. At the height of Metro Manila's extreme health quarantine, Pilmico Foods Corp., the Aboitiz company that manufactures Maxime, teamed up with Shopee to make their dog food more accessible to the market.

“We started this partnership with Shopee in May 2020 because we saw their platform’s potential in expanding the current reach of our products,” said Joeben Gamatero, II, Pilmico vice president for branding and marketing. “As households continue to adjust to the new normal, we want to be there bringing quality products that are conveniently available to our consumers.”

In addition, Maxime has opened a new flagship store in Lazada that offers cash vouchers in a bid to keep old customers and acquire new ones. Pilmico makes two variants, adult and puppy, of Maxime.

A 2016 report called Satisfying Southeast Asia's Appetite Through Digital pointed at how industry leaders are ramping up investments in developing online retail platforms to remain relevant to the regions’ rising demand for convenience. Packaged food, which includes pet food, is one of the most vibrant categories in online retailing at present, growing at 14.3% annually for the last five years.