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Philippines snackmaker Liwayway Group is now a leading brand in China

Dec 04, 2015 02:26 AM EST

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Liwayway Holdings Co. Ltd., a Philippines-based company that makes Oishi snack foods, is now one of leading snack makers in China.

The company Started its business in China more than two decades ago. Liwayway Group was one of the first foreign investors to set up shop in the Chinese commercial capital.

Liwayway was one of Shanghai's first foreign-owned companies to make goods for domestic consumers, according to Forbes.

When the group established its first Chinese factory in 1993, doubts raised  over its future in the country. Many of Liwaway's first employees in China decided to leave as they were unsure how they would fare under a foreign employer.

But now Liwayway Group not only survived for 22 years in China but also expanded its manufacturing plants in 14 other locations in the country including remote areas such as Harbin, Xinjiang, and Kunming.

Liwayway also runs factories in Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and India, and three factories in its home base in the Philippines.

Liwayway's snack product, Oishi, is now one of China's iconic brands that sold by more than 700 wholesale distributors throughout the country.

Oishi was recognized as a China Famous Brand 2006 and Shanghai Famous 2001. Oishi had retail snack sales of about $1 billion throughout the region in 2013.

A recent Euromonitor cited by Management Association of the Philippines said that Oishi is among the top five snack food brands in the Asia Pacific region with an estimated market share of 2.2 percent.

It comes after Want Want Brand of Want Want Holding Taiwan (5.1 percent), Lay's of Pepsico U.S. (3.8 percent), Calbee Foods Japan (3.4 percent), and Strong  of Guangdong Strong China (2.3 percent).

Liwayway Group is a truly multinational corporation with its overseas sales are estimated to be 90 percent of its total sales. China Liwayway's founder and Liwayway Group's chairman Carlos Chan, sits on the 27th Forbes Asia's Philippines rich list this year, with a net worth of $550 million.

Carlos Chan, a Chinese Filipino, with his brother Manuel Chan changed the family business that was originally distributing starch since 1946, into a snack food business starting in the 1970s and introduced its first product, Oishi Prawn Crackers.

Carlos began exploring China market in 1984, and in 1993 he opened Liwayway factory in Shanghai.

With the economy crisis in China this year, China Liwayway has been struggling over rising labor costs, growing competition and rapid changes in taxation and regulations through the end of 2015, according to Wall Street Journals.

Now the company is seeking to keep a stable labor force in its manufacturing plants to increase productivity and explore new markets for further expansions.

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