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Local food exporters busy tapping foreign markets
[October 14, 2006]

Local food exporters busy tapping foreign markets

(Philippine Daily Inquirer Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) LOCAL FOOD EXPORTERS ARE busier than ever amid a flurry of international trade shows and expositions, taking every opportunity to put a foot inside the door of major markets around the globe.

Earlier this year, these companiesmost of which are small and medium enterprisesdisplayed their products at the International Food Exhibition held in Pasay City, at the Thaifex-World Food Asia in Bangkok, Taipei International Food Show in Taiwan and Foodex in Japan.

Still, the exporters themselves as well as market experts think they have not showed enough. For example, an expert from the United Kingdom said during a visit last August that Philippine food firms should try out the UK market.

There is much to be leveraged with the ever-growing Filipino communities scattered worldwide aside from the influence of migrant populations in general. There are vast markets of people missing home and their native foods, and people living multicultural lifestyles willing to try out foreign tastes.

At the IFEX Philippines held last May, bestsellers included saluyot, laing, pinangat, pili and polvoron while fruit wines, plain and savory sandwich crackers and sardines sold well at the Thaifex-World Food Asia.

In Taiwan last June, buyers snapped up angel wings or "chicken-of-the-sea" which can be prepared sushi or sashimi style; abalone or "ear-shell," which can be stewed, grilled, or sauteed and; tropical wines with unique flavors like mango, bignay and duhat.

This time around, 12 food firms are eyeing international food buyers in France as part of efforts to promote emerging food products through the Salon Internationale de Lalimentation (SIAL) that would showcase an array of tropical food on Oct. 22-26.

The companies include canned tuna producer Alliance Tuna International Inc.; B-G Fruits & Nuts Manufacturing Corp., sweetened banana chips; Celebes Canning Corp., canned tuna; El Coco Manufacturing & Trading Corp./GSL Food, banana chips; and Florence Foods Corp., sweet preserves, virgin coconut oil, coconut milk; M. Lhuillier Food Products Inc., dried fruits;

Oceanic Exports (Manila), fruit preserves, sauces and seasonings, noodles, tropical snacks and specialties, fruit wines, food supplements, virgin coconut oil, personal care products; Primex Coco Products, desiccated coconut; Sees International Food Manufacturing Corp., banana chips, dried fruits, dessicated coconut; Shemberg Marketing Corp., icepops, confectioneries; Strategic Development Cooperation-Asia, desiccated coconut macaroons; and Superstar Coconut Products Co., desiccated coconut.

Trade Assistant Secretary Fe Agoncillo-Reyes says the firms joining SIAL offers a unique chance for them to meet over 135,000 buyers who are on the lookout for new suppliers of innovative products.

Reyes, who is also executive director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, explains that Citem is organizing the Philippine participation in the fair this year.

Exposure to SIAL is also an opportunity for local companies to learn the consumer trends worldwide, she says.

Reyes cites the 2005 Euromonitor Report on Packaged Foods, which said that the global food consumers tend to go for healthy snacking which can be attributed to todays fast-paced lifestyle.

The report also says that the food service industry is projected to grow by 10 percent and gain importance in the retail distribution chain.

Health issues remain a priority as more and more people switch to good, organic premium goods, she says.

Reyes said exporters growing efforts to tap an ever-widening market must be accompanied by greater adherence to global standards such as good manufacturing practices; kosher, halal and organic certifications; and the hazard analysis critical control points among Filipino food manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, consolidators and exporters.

Aside from what will be promoted in SIAL, the government and exporters have been pushing products such as premium seafood, choice coffee beans, desserts, fresh mangoes, and herbal preparations.

Reyes says Philippine fresh and processed food including canned meats and sets of restaurant meals as well as tropical fruits, seafood, and value-added marine products, have also gained a loyal following not only among Filipino communities abroad, but also from natives with preference for tropical cuisine.

Copyright 2006 Philippine Daily Inquirer. Source : Financial Times Information Limited (Trademark)

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