Industry

Century Tuna Founder Ricardo Po Sr. Dies

Ricardo Po Sr. left a grand legacy.
IMAGE CENTURY PACIFIC
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Ricard Po Sr., the founder of Century Pacific, the canning company that produces the country’s bestselling canned tuna and other products, has passed away due to complications arising from surgery. He was 90 years. The news was confirmed by family members through a group chat sent to editors of Esquire Philippines

“His family was by his side throughout the ordeal until he returned to the Lord,” the message said. “He…lived a full life raising his family, building his company and perfecting his golf game.”

Po and his family emigrated to the Philippines from China when he was 15 years old. A profile in iFranchise said Po studied hard to learn English by reading a Chinese-English dictionary almost daily and eventually helped Chinese businessmen with translation services in Binondo. He saved enough to enroll at the University of Santo Tomas to study chemistry but later dropped out. He then became a writer and journalist and worked for a Chinese newspaper in Binondo. 

Po then opened an advertising company called Cathay Promotions, which was responsible for creating the iconic logo for SM. However, he lost most of his fortune during the stock market crash in 1973 and the company had to close down.

Po invested his remaining funds in a shrimp packaging company but it was his venture into the tuna canning business where he was able to build his fortune. Through a bank loan, he set up his own canning factory in 1978 and started exporting his canned products to Germany and the U.S. Business in the Philippines was slow as canned products was a relatively new concept here then.

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Po eventually expanded his product line to include sardines and other canned seafood products. Today both Century Tuna and 555 Sardines are leading brands in their respective markets. Other brands under Century Pacific are Angel (milk), Argentina, Birch Tree, Blue Bay, Swift, unMeat, Fresca, and many others. 

Po also ventured into real estate through Arthaland Corporation. Century Pacific also bought a majority stake in Shakey’s after the popular pizza restaurant chain went public in 2016.

Po had a personal fortune of about $1.5 billion as of October 2021, placing him 16th in the list of the country’s richest.

He is survived by his wife and their four sons.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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