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Filipino food: Captivating a tasty global market?

By Kacey Culliney , 23-Jul-2012

The unique flavours of Filipino foods should captivate the global market and underpin a surge in exports, according to the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI is committed to promoting micro, small-and-medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the Philippines and has backed its food manufacturers, saying there is strong export potential.

DTI data suggests food exports for the first quarter of 2012 were worth around US$1bn with 50% processed foods. However, the Philippines Centre for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) pegs food exports for the first quarter much higher, almost double, at US$2.57bn.

Merly M Cruz, undersecretary for Regional Operations and Development Group (RODG) at DTI, said that the global taste for Filipino foods is set to soar.

“Some experts believe that this trend is just taking off and that the unique Filipino blend of European and Asian flavours will soon capture the taste buds of the world market,” Cruz said at a recently held food fair in the country.

The fair showcased food products from around 200 MSMEs and included staples like rice, delicacies and desserts, coffee, honey as well as fruit-flavoured wines. It marked part of the governmental department’s effort to promote its smaller food players and push export growth.

Global reach

For 2011, the US, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were the major markets importing Philippine processed foods.  Philippine processed food exports for this year were worth US$1.72bn, according to DTI.

For 2012 so far, these markets remained key export destinations, DTI said, but the Chinese market has become increasingly important. China has become the second importer of Filipino processed foods so far in 2012, the DTI stated.

CITEM recently pushed local manufacturers to target the EU, as demands for Asian foods surge across Europe driven by the hotel, restaurant and catering sector.

Rosvi C. Gaetos, executive director of CITEM, said that local firms must “take advantage of Europe’s increasing demand for Asian food and ingredients brought about by the growing number of health-conscious consumers and the large ethnic groups residing in wealthy EU countries”.

Beverages are also a focus for the Philippines’ export sector, pulling in US$52.2m for 2011 and US$32.2m in 2012 so far. Thailand, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong are the major export destinations.

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