by Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN News
SAN FRANCISCO — The Winter Fancy Food Show — organized by the Speciality Food Association — is an event where foodies and industry experts get to network and experience many unique cuisines from all over the world.
With both the Food Network and Bloomberg predicting that Filipino food will be one of the hottest trends in 2017, the government looks to promote the best in Philippine products and cuisine at this annual event.
“Food Philippines” is a branding initiative of the Center for International Trade and Expositions and Missions, which is part of the Philippine Department of Trade & Industry.
“We were visited by Costco, Krueger… our regular buyer, Whole Foods, came as well and some other big buyers in Canada, and other states like Washington,” said Victoria Arellano, from the PH Dept. of Trade & Industry.
“if we close these deals with these kind of buyers, it means a lot of dollar revenue for the Philippines,” said Eva Marie Mariquina, from the PH Dept. of Trade & Industry, “and it means jobs will be generated in the Philippines, so it has a big impact for us.”
According to Food Philippines, at last year’s Winter Fancy food show, the Philippines featured 17 local companies, recorded a total of 540 buyer inquiries, and negotiated sales worth over $44 million.
This year, they hope to generate sales of $47 million by utilizing 20 local companies — including 13 new participants, to showcase a variety of health and wellness speciality food products.
Some of these familiar Filipino companies found success at the trade show.
“We had the fortunate experiences of brokers and retailers from Wal-Mart, Costco, Albertsons — all coming by to visit,” said Century Pacific Food’s Greg Banzon. “They say it’s because of the growing interests of Filipino food in the USA.”
“We have reached new agreements with some distributors, and we are also going to introduce new SKUs and brands in the US,” said Annielane P. Moreno, from Republic Biscuit Corporation.
Companies also said it was important to showcase how Filipinos utilize certain food items that not many americans use.
“One coconut has more than 5,000 roots. Basically in its natural way, it can extract all kinds of natural minerals from the soil and put it into the fruit of the coconut [in a way] that makes the coconut highly nutritious,” said Eutemio b. Cabilin, Businesspeople Inc.
“The US market – they’re more on the bread,” said Liza P Guinto, from SL Agrifood Corp. “They’re not really rice eaters, but I think introducing our brown rice and entering into the mainstream — it’s really a good venue to introduce, and to show them the benefits of brown rice.”
While many older Filipinos may have grown up with these food companies — they are also targeting young Fil-Ams.
Said Edwin C. Chotangco, from San Miguel Pure Foods, “We’ve been highlighting not only our brand, but also the heritage of Filipinos. We want to keep it alive, because right now in the US, third generation American kids don’t really know our brand.”
Food Philippines is already locked in for next year’s Winter Fancy Food Show, and look to continue to showcase more of the best of Filipino cuisine.