The love for bread is innate among Pinoy families. Thus it’s no wonder that a brand such as Gardenia became an instant hit to every Filipino, especially to the young ones who grew up with it. To them, it was something they happily ate with or without “palaman” at the breakfast or merienda table. They loved the cream rolls during recess. And muffins were always packed during family picnics. Flavored loaves were present at their festive tables that reflected everything as celebratory and indulgent. For kids today, Gardenia meant “sarap” at every turn during their growing-up years.
So it would surprise many teens and young adults today that the brand was launched in the Philippines just 15 years ago.
Sure there were other bread brands before Gardenia was quietly introduced to the market, but none made quite the same impact as Gardenia. It was a hit from the get-go. Universally and almost instantaneously, Gardenia loaves just flew off the supermarket shelves catering to the bread requirements of people from all walks of life.
Maybe it was the way it literally stood out as the loaves were designed to be displayed vertically, instead of horizontally, as every other brand did.
Maybe it was that small resealable plastic clip called the “G-Lock” that locked in bread’s freshness. The G-lock was an immensely thoughtful innovation—suggesting all the vital information that the consumers might need such as the best before date, suggested retail price and batch number.
Or maybe Gardenia had just become a habit.
And yet, Gardenia was a premium brand, even at the outset. There were cheaper loaves in the market, but even at a time when the economy was a little shaky, people continued to prefer Gardenia.
The crux of Gardenia’s success lies in the fact that they never underestimated the people who buy their breads.
Gardenia puts the people’s needs first.
They knew people wanted their bread fresh, like it just came out of the oven.
They knew that people wanted their bread to taste good. In fact, Gardenia’s recipe has been so successful they proudly claimed the tag, “Masarap kahit walang palaman.”
Then, there’s the all-important aroma. Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread? Open a bag of Gardenia and inhale to find out why.
People also want their breads soft because some often equate hardness with stale bread. Observe how people squeeze and pinch bags of bread before putting them in their cart.
But Gardenia has gone a step further by making sure the bread doesn’t fall apart when hard butter is spread on it or when people roll a slice to eat it.
Being consumer-focused, Gardenia provided a wide array of bread choices for consumers. Their breads are known for their nutritive value and are all fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
Through the years, Gardenia has responded to people’s changing tastes. They introduced the immensely popular and super healthy High Fiber Wheat Bread loaf in 1998. Two years later, the buns and the flavored loaves, like the California Raisin and Chocolate Chip loaves, were introduced in the market. And then, in succession, they gave Filipinos the all-time favorite Pan de Sal, delicious mini wonders, addictive muffins, the Cream Roll favorites, amazing flavored loaves and the best-selling high fiber wheat bread studded with raisins and cranberries.
Behind the scenes, Gardenia was making revolutionary changes as well in the way they baked, packaged and distributed their sought-after breads. They started their full operations in 1998 with the 2K plant, with a capacity of 2,000 loaves per hour. Then they inaugurated another plant in 2002 capable of producing 4,000 loaves of bread per hour.
A year later, Gardenia stuck two more feathers in their cap. They received the coveted ISO certification in compliance with Quality Management System and product quality excellence. This is awarded only to companies that comply with globally accepted manufacturing standards meant to ensure the highest quality. Gardenia also received the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification for food safety since 2003 to present. This proves that the company adheres to the systematic approach in the identification, evaluation, and control of the food safety standards.
Gardenia’s best practices did not go unnoticed. For six straight years, Gardenia was accorded Superbrands status for their market dominance, longevity, goodwill, customer loyalty and overall market acceptance. Gardenia was also named “Outstanding Bread Manufacturer” for five straight years by the Annual National Consumers’ Award.
Another notable year was marked in 2005 as it was another time for expansion. Gardenia opened additional factories and distribution centers, and established a foothold in Iloilo and Bicol Region. But demand went unabated. Four years later, they launched their 6K plant, a state-of-the-art computer controlled bread manufacturing plant capable of making 6,000 loaves of bread per hour or nearly 150,000 loaves per day. The plant also ensured that all breads baked remained practically untouched by human hands.
Gardenia continued to grow in order to serve world class bread to every Filipino family. In fact, in 2011, they inaugurated their bread plant in Cebu to cater the bread needs of the Eastern and Western Visayas down to Northern and Central Mindanao.
That same year, the Department of Trade and Industry awarded Gardenia the Proactive Program Achievement Awards for three categories, namely Labor Management Relationship, Family Welfare/Community Relations, and Quality and Productivity.
This accolade shows that even in a time of corporate expansion, Gardenia has understood the fundamentals of governing their business—putting people first, whether employees, the community or to those who remain loyal to their super “sarap” quality breads.
So in the next 15 or so years, the kids who grew up on Gardenia are likely to bring up a new generation of kids who will also equate “sarap” at the breakfast table with nothing more—and nothing less—than Gardenia.
Christian Melanie Lee is a freelance social media manager and web developer. She also devoted her time managing her food blog, and music/concert blog. One of the Hootsuite Ambassador for the Philippines since 2014 and currently working as social media manager for the local band, The Itchyworms.
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.