In the 1970s, Magnolia Dairy Products pretty much lorded it over the Philippine ice cream market, but there were a few more players that dared challenge the leader. Some of these included the 60s brand Silver Bell, the scoop ice cream station Coney Island, and Selecta Ice Cream which was sold in limited quantities in supermarkets.
Then, in 1975, Consolidated Food Corporation owned by the taipan John Gokongwei, ventured into ice cream production and introduced PRESTO ICE CREAM, which, to Magnolia, loomed as a serious contender to deal with. After all, Gokongwei had a history of aggressively marketing its products that found favor in the Philippine marketplace.
Beginning in 1954, when he put up Universal Robina Corporation which launched snack items like Jack ‘n Jill, candies like Nips, Maxx, Dynamite, and noodles, like Nissin’s. Gokongwei wanted to diversify like what multinational companies were doing, and so in 1961, he put up Consolidated Food Corporation which produced two initial successes—Blend 45 and Great Taste Coffee, brands that at one point soundly beat Café Puro and Nescafe,
CFC had used the brand name PRESTO earlier, in the late1960s, for its chocolate snacks. Now it wanted to capitalize on that already-familiar name by calling its newest ice cream product--PRESTO ICE CREAM. It was directly aimed at Magnolia, but with a twist—it was significantly cheaper than the ice cream leader. “Anything you’ve always wanted in an ice cream, for less!”, the colored print ads bannered.
To Magnolia’s well-entrenched “Flavor of The Month”, PRESTO responded with “Presto Flavorites for the Month”, and during special times like the Christmas holidays, not one, but two “flavorites” were launched.
PRESTO, too, had counterpart products for Magnolia’s Frozen Delights—a line of ice cream novelties. PRESTO Funwich—two chocolate cookies with ice cream in between-- attained popularity in the late 1970s, and so did PRESTO Tivoli Ice Cream Choco Bars, Funsticks, Heaven in a Bar and Calypso Cream Bars.
|Made with the modern 'Fast-Freeze' Process, 1979|
PRESTO ICE CREAM touted its modern “Fast-Freeze” process of manufacturing ice cream. Fast-frozen ice cream means ice cream at the peak-of-freshness. At its height, PRESTO even lent its name to the Gokongwei-owned basketball team, that played in PBA from the 70s thru the 90s –the PRESTO Ice Cream Makers.
Despite the initial hoopla and the millions spent in pushing the brand, PRESTO could not make significant inroads into Magnolia’s turf. Magnolia countered with the price brand Sorbetes, but even then, by the late 1980s, the rising cost of materials started to affect the local ice cream industry. CFC stopped its PRESTO Ice Cream production altogether by the mid 1990s, as the ice cream landscape changed when RFM bought the Selecta brand and turned it into a market leader, overtaking Magnolia by 1997, this, despite a joint venture by Nestle.
Today, PRESTO still exists in the URC porfolio—but only as a cream cookie brand, under the “Jack and Jill” line. With its demise, PRESTO Ice Cream joins other discontinued Gokongwei product ventures like Yahoo Juice Drinks, Robina Chickens and Mark Electronics.
Unilever website: https://www.unilever.com.ph/brands/our-brands/selecta.html
Universal Robina Corp. website:http://www2.urc.com.ph/