They just concluded the Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair held March 15 - 19 at the Megatrade Halls of SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
This is the fifth year of the staging of Sikat Pinoy andB&L ( Business & Leisure) has been following this trade fair since it first began in 2012. We have seen how it has grown over the years in terms of participation and public attendance, but more important, we have seen more Filipino food products, new and innovative on display at the fair.
The Dept. of Trade & Industry - Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (DTI-BDTP) under Director Dodit Leano has been doing its research well together with the Food, Nutrition & Research Institute and outperforming itself in its mission to support our SMEs in the food sector. This is a special trade fair that aims to increase the domestic marketing of food products produced in the country and it is the task of DTI-BDTP to find big markets for the distribution of these products. It has proven to be an increasingly effective platform for our SMEs to showcase their products. From a regular bazaar for Filipino food products when it started in 2012, the exhibit has evolved into a well-curated trade fair that runs on the theme: Piling Piling Pagkaing Pinoy.
This year, 198 exhibitors set up colourful native booths in the exhibit site, and as word of mouth increased, so did the public attendance. The thing is, not only were the retailers there, many of those who went to the exhibit were those who just wanted to know, and to buy, new Filipino food items to bring home to the family. They had snack foods, condiments, beverages, processed meats and ready-to-eat microwavable food, among others, on display in their booths. This year, special focus was on the pavilions displaying organic products, hydroponic gardens, halal-certified products from the Bicol region and selected products from the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The B&L crew went around talking to various exhibitors. Ms. Emma Batung, manager of the Alcala Women's Rural Improvement Club from Cagayan Valley showed off their different variations of peanut products. This organization is a group of women who initially embraced the DTI One Town One Product (OTOP) project launched several years back and is now a first timer in Sikat Pinoy. These women buy the produce of the women of Alcala and give them better value through their different variations: caramel-coated, baked, hot and spicy and garlic peanuts.
Ricky Enriquez , sales executive of Free Food Coconut Manufacturing Corp., was glad to talk about this social enterprise that manufactures coco sugar and premium Coco Dolce Chocolates. Ricky said that the company chose this kind of business concept because they hope to uplift the Filipino farmers' lives while partnering with different rural communities. The company, Ricky said, pays more than the average pay to the farmers to encourage them to return to the farms. They also do their fair share in promoting tourism in these communities. In the process, they are able to promote healthier sweetener alternatives like the coco sugar not only here in the Philippines but globally as well. Their newest product, Coco Dolce Chocolates which can be found in high-end supermarkets like Rustans and other retail outlets, uses coco sugar as well so it is a great alternative for the diet-conscious chocoholics.
Then there was Joyful Garden Farm Organic Farmers' Association which advocates organic products and enjoins simple homeowners and non-farmers to raise organic plants in their backyard. Jocelyn "Joy" Reyes, president of this association, says housewives can earn from these healthy produce, or at the very least provide healthy, pesticide-free meals to the family. The association links farmers with the right markets. Garden Farm Organic Farmers' Association was sponsored by the Dept. of Agriculture to join Sikat Pinoy only this year, earning for them a free booth in this big trade fair. They were very happy to be able to display and promote their organic products in such a big and well-attended exhibit and promote their farmers' organic produce. For those interested to learn more about these products, check them out at the Dept. of Agriculture at the Quezon Circle.
This fair which ran for five days, is a retail and order-taking event, so institutional buyers from hotels and restaurant as well as traders came to Sikat Pinoy. Definitely, there has been much improvement among the participating exhibitors in terms of product quality, packaging and labelling as the participating SMEs are concerned as they have upgraded their standards over the years. Of course, DTI has also raised the bar for these participants. Not just anyone can pay the fee, haul in their homemade products and join Sikat Pinoy. A screening committee designated by the Dept. of Trade and Industry meticulously screens all the applicants and their products before they are allowed to join Sikat Pinoy. By the way, did you know that DTI has published a book that details how MSMEs can promote and market their products and how these can be displayed in supermarkets? They launched this book which provides would-be entrepreneurs with the supermarkets' stringent criteria for those interested to being their products to them for sale. The book likewise gives valuable tips on how to become acceptable suppliers to institutions like restaurants and hotels. Check it out.
Food will never go out of business and the food sector is always dynamic and innovative, which makes Sikat Pinoy the SME's valuable ally.
Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.
For comments & inquiries (email) firstname.lastname@example.org