CDO’s ascent from a mom-and-pop business

In Photo: Food specialists, like the woman in the photo, make sure the quality of CDO products are at par with global standards.

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CORAZON DAYRO ONG, the entrepreneur behind Foodsphere Inc., manufacturer of CDO food products, recalls that, 40 years ago, she and her husband Jose “Pepe” Ong started a kitchen-based “mom-and-pop” enterprise, producing siopao with longganisa filling, as well as longganisa and tocino variants.

Today, Foodsphere is a major food company that manufactures and distributes a wide selection of food products under popular brands CDO, Bibbo, Holiday, San Marino, Highlands and Danes. The company marks its 40 years in business on June 25.

“As we celebrate this important milestone, I can’t help but be nostalgic and remember how my husband Pepe and I started this business. It was a modest beginning—a modest but important beginning…four decades has passed and with all humility…what started as a home business has now grown big and successful,” Corazon says during a party hosted by the company for its business partners at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on June 16.

“As I look back at the past 40 years with all of you, my heart overflows with gratitude. There’s no better way of celebrating this than expressing our sincerest appreciation to everyone who has been an important part of this journey,” she says.

“Thank you for believing in my dream. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to pursue my passion,” she says.

Foodsphere, which was established in 1975, marks 2015 as another milestone by paying tribute and recognition to employees, trade partners, suppliers and the millions of Filipino consumers for believing in its products and for making CDO a household name. CDO-Foodsphere grew to become the country’s top food company, employing over 3,000 Filipinos in state-of-the-art factories that produce high-quality products under popular brands CDO, Bibbo, Holiday, San Marino, Highlands and Danes.

Corazon, a nutritionist-dietitian, and her husband started the company at their home in Valenzuela City, which became the production, warehouse and distribution area.

The couple’s production area was a makeshift kitchen while their dining area served as the research and development and quality assurance offices. The warehouse and distribution center was their garage. They produced and distributed siopao with a longganisa filling, longganisa and tocino products, which were patronized by neighbors and friends.

With a P60,000 loan from a rural bank, the couple registered the company as CDO Food Products on June 25, 1975. In 1981 the company was registered as Foodsphere Inc. and CDO became the flagship brand.

In 1985 a wide array of products were developed under the CDO brand, ranging from tocino, tapa, cheesedogs, bacon, chorizo, hams and sausages.

By 1990 Foodsphere built its first modern manufacturing plant in Valenzuela City in preparation for massive production and nationwide distribution.

In its quest to become a nationally known brand, the company aired the first CDO television commercial in 1995 to increase brand awareness and to reach more consumers.

As the demand for its products expanded, Foodsphere inaugurated its second factory in 1998, a new technoplant in Valenzuela City with a capacity of 100,000 kilos a day. It also entered the canned corned beef business and was the first company to popularize Karne Norte in 100-gram cans.

In 2004 Foodsphere established Odyssey Foundation Inc. as its corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm to help the underprivileged members of society by administering supplemental feeding and livelihood programs in impoverished communities. Foodsphere launched Bibbo! Cheesedog in 2005, signaling the company’s thrust to become a key player in the premium hotdog segment.

In 2009 the company inaugurated the new megaplant in Malvar, Batangas, to support the expansion of its hotdog business and the introduction of marine products. The plant features state-of-the-art facilities to provide higher
efficiency output to produce world-class products. Foodsphere entered into the local canned tuna business which used to be controlled 99 percent by one industry player, by launching San Marino Corned Tuna. The brand has increased its market share by offering consumers with a wider choice of tuna products.

In 2011 Foodsphere launched Highlands Corned Beef as its entry into the premium corned beef segment. Highlands is a brand that is made with Angus Beef.

The company was awarded ISO 22000: 2005 Food Safety Management System certification in 2011, ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System certification in 2012 and FSSC 22000:2010 Food Safety System certification in 2013.

Foodsphere is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015. From a “mom-and-pop” business in 1975, Foodsphere has grown to become an innovative and reliable food company, which produces high-quality products within the reach of Filipino consumers.

From a makeshift kitchen with two employees, Foodsphere now employs more than 3,000 Filipinos in two manufacturing plant, several provincial branch offices, warehouse, factory stores and in the different supermarkets and groceries nationwide.

“We could not be where we are today without you. Because of you, what started as a dream became our company with a successful experience and commitment in providing high-quality and nutritious food products at reasonable prices at all times,” Corazon says.