SMC revealed its plans during the company's annual stockholders meeting, held in Manila earlier this week.
"We are confident that you will see significant acceleration of our regional expansion program well into 2004," he said as he as he declared the Company's goal to be among Asia's top ten largest food and beverage companies by 2007.
SMC is renowned throughout the world for its beer, which is an international brand leader and one of the top selling beers in Asia. However, outside of the domestic market its presence in the processed foods segment is not nearly as dominant.
Over the past ten years the company has built up a position as a clear leader in the domestic food and beverage market, but industry observers believe that its position is now so dominant that there is clearly little room for growth. This fact has been reflected in the company's recent financial results, which showed that the company main growth lay outside of the domestic market.
Stressing that a strong domestic operations of SMC is essential in replicating the company's local successes overseas, Cojuangco said. And overall growth remains buoyant. Consolidated net sales revenue grew 9 per cent to P148.6 billion (€2.25bn), up from P136.1 billion in 2002, with strong volume growth of 14 per cent in beverage, 10 per cent in packaging and 4 per cent in the food group. Operating income amounted to P14.4 billion in 2003, 13 per cent above 2002, while net income reached P7.37 billion, up 7 per cent.
"By holding to our strategies of investing in our brands, leveraging our distribution, reducing costs and improving productivity, the company managed to post strong growth in almost every respect," he added.
Cojuangco stressed that regional expansion has become a "central strategic priority" for the San Miguel Group.
"Given the demographics of overseas food and beverage industries, we see enormous potential for our products in Asia's emerging markets and have set our sights on the vast regional opportunity in convenient beverages and food," he said.
San Miguel recently acquired a brewery and other related assets in Thailand and has also commenced the construction of a soft beverage facility in an SMC manufacturing complex there. Last November, the Company also purchased a leading feeds producer in Vietnam.
The CEO added innovation was continuing to drive volume and market share gains in many of SMC's divisions, particularly in the Food Group where over 80 new products were launched in 2003 alone.
"We have a strong lineup of new products and innovation again planned for 2004," he said noting the "significant strides" that the Company achieved in turning itself into a marketing company from just a manufacturer of consumer goods.
"We have evolved in many of our businesses a brand strategy that hinges on strong consumer relationships and clear brand identity," the San Miguel CEO said.
SMC proved its strong position last year, when, despite the impact of the SARS epidemic throughout Asia, it still managed to significantly increase its core beer sales for 2003 over the previous year, a result that surprised many analysts.
The CEO also said that operational focus would be another area that SMC will pursue after by continuing to tighten management of costs and cash to spur margin expansion. "More operational discipline is helping ensure that we have the resources we need to support our brands," Cojuangco said, adding that to top matters off the company would also be looking to further hone its international distribution in an effort to push growth further.