Sixteen top Philippine food manufacturers will headline the Philippine delegation that will showcase their products at Food Taipei, the Taipei International Food Show to be held from June 21 to 24, at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.


Organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (Taitra) and considered as one of Asia’s leading food shows, the show will coincide with five events and over 1,500 exhibiting companies. 


The Food Philippines exhibition is part of the efforts of the Department of Trade and Industry, through the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (DTI-Citem), to strengthen the position of the Philippines as a leading source of premium, natural, healthy and ready-to-eat processed food and beverages in the Taiwan food market.  


Exhibitors will be representing the Philippines’s premium products, such as coconut, banana, cacao, tuna and other healthy food products. Tagged as one of Asia’s “Four Tigers”, Taiwan has a vibrant economy and is considered one of the richest in Asia. 


“Our aim is to increase the market share of Philippine food exports to Taiwan by achieving at least $22 million worth of export sales. For the longest time, Taiwan has been increasingly reliant on food and agricultural imports due to the country’s limited arable land and agricultural production. This factor enhances the market opportunities for the Philippines, to penetrate the Taiwan food market,” Citem Executive Director Clayton Tugonon said. 


The exhibitor team is composed of manufacturers and exporters of products from the southern regions, focusing on a mix of fresh and processed healthy and natural products, halal, ready-to-eat food and industrial ingredients. 


Exhibitors include Raw Brown Sugar Milling Co. Inc. for organic muscovado sugar; ProSource International Inc. for virgin coconut oil (VCO), nectar and amino; Pasciolco Agri-Ventures for VCO, coco sugar, coco jam and coco-sap vinegar; Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp. for unsweetened chocolate, roastedcacao nibs and dark chocolate; Fitrite Inc. for fruit juices, noodles, mixes and bagoong; Year Luck Food and Industrial Corp. for soft-serve ice cream powder and ice-cream cones, waffles and wafers.


Also participating are Tropicana Food Products Inc. with their VCO; CJ Uniworld Corp. for banana chips; Celebes Canning Corp. for canned, pouched and frozen tuna; DMI Medical Supply’s Food Division for the MX3 food supplement, MX3 coffee and MX3 tea, which uses xanthone from mangosteen; and JNRM Corp. with native pre-mixed delicacies and flavour syrups.


JNRM Corp. will bring their pre-mixed products of Philippine home-grown delicacies, such as kutsinta, bibingka, espasol, ube halaya, sapin-sapin and maja blanca.


The DTI-Citem also partnered with the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) to feature in the Taiwan food fair the export-ready products of companies under the Regional Interactive Platform for Philippine Exporters (Ripples) Plus Program. Participating under the Ripples Plus Program are Mama Tina Pasta with their noodles, pasta and canned meat; Green Life Coconut Products Philippines Inc. with their coconut butter, organic coconut cider vinegar and organic coconut spirit; Team Asia Corp. with their coconut oil, VCO and other coconut-related products; and Weambard International Traders Inc. with their canned fruit products in light syrup, mango slices, mango bits with nata de coco bits, banana (whole saba) mango puree with sago and young coconut (buko) strings.


The Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) will also exhibit the products, made using the Philippines’s state-of-the-art food technologies and equipment.


The food-and-drinks sector is the fifth-largest industry in Taiwan and one of the market’s fastest-growing sectors. Attendees are expected to range from local supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores, as these increase the range of imported foods to meet demand. 


The Food Taipei 2017 visitor profile includes importers, wholesalers, distributors, hotel owners and representatives, restaurant and bakery owners and online retailers from China, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the US and Singapore.


Philippine products to be exported to Taiwan must adhere to the requirements specified by Taiwan’s Food Safety and Sanitation Act, a new and improved food-safety system.  Products entering Taiwan must comply with their requirements for quality and package labeling. 


The retail sector and consumer food-service industry in Taiwan continue to emerge as lucrative markets for Philippine products, due to Taiwan’s busy lifestyle. Substantiating this is the rapidly expanding foodservice industry, forecast to reach sales of $21.6 billion by 2017 (AAFC, 2014). The Taiwan food industry poses an attractive destination for the high-quality products of Philippine manufacturers, suppliers and exporters.

FoodPhilippines is a branding initiative of Citem, the DTI’s export promotion arm. It unifies the efforts of the government to promote the Philippines as a source of quality food products in the global market.


The FoodPhilippines Pavilion will be located at Nangang Exhibition Hall and TWTC Hall 1 of the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, Taipei, Taiwan. This participation in the Food Taipei 2017 is organized by the DTI, through the Citem, in cooperation with its EMB, DOST-ITDI, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office  and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Taiwan. This participation is one of DTI’s major efforts to intensify the promotion of Philippine specialty food products in overseas trade shows.

By Magnolia Uy and Ella Burgos / Philippine Trade and Investment Center-Geneva


The “Slow Food” movement in Switzerland has progressed into high gear recently with books and films raising awareness of the dangers of a fast-food diet for humans and the planet. Two leading retailers, Migros and Coop, played a key role in the Slow Food movement since the early 1990s when they first placed organic products on their shelves. It was a decision that proved to be a breakthrough for chemical free foods, putting them for the first time on the plates of the average Swiss family.  


Slow Food began in Italy in 1986 with the foundation of its forerunner organization, Arcigola, to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish steps in Rome. The Slow Food organization spawned by the movement has expanded and now has over 100,000 members with chapters in over 132 countries.


According to the international Slow Food organization, everyone has “the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture. We believe the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work”.


The Philippines can take advantage of the Slow Food Trend in the following aspects:


1. Non-GMO Foods/Organic food and fair trade certifications—About 80 percent of the world’s chocolate is organic by default. Most farmers can’t afford chemical applications, and it’s not efficient for the crop.


2. Dehydrated Foods—Dehydrated foods make for convenient, healthier, less sugary snacking and help preserve foods and concentrate their flavors. Philippine products: dried fruits and nuts, seaweed;


3. Gluten-Free Flours—Grainfree cooking and baking is trending and very popular in Paleo circles, so the demand for these flours is on the rise. Philippine products: mango flour, coconut flour;


4. Single origin food—Singleorigin food is food products grown within a single-known geographic origin. Sometimes, this is a single farm, or a specific collection of crops from a single country, such as cacao, coffee and tea; and


5. Flavors from Asia—The old days of bland meat and potatoes are gone, as Swiss demographics and palates are shifting, and taste buds are exploring these two exotic continents: Asia and Africa. The Swiss are becoming more open to hotter spices, new textures and taste, and a greater variety of ethnic food.


For more information, you can get in touch with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Geneva, Switzerland, at +41.22.9097900 / 7906/7915/7917 and Geneva@dti. PTIC Geneva is led by our commercial attaches, TSO Maggie Uy and TSO Ella Burgos, and is located at the Philippine Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization at Rue de Lausanne 80, 1902 Geneva. •

Following President Duterte’s instruction to revive and to strengthen the country’s footwear industry, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and members of the Philippine Footwear Federation Inc. (PFFI) identified possible solutions to existing obstacles that hamper the shoe industry’s growth.


“Technological improvement remains an industry concern. While there are patrons who prefer manually produced shoes because of their durability, still, innovation is crucial for the shoe industry to flourish and expand,” Lopez said.


In a series of site visits on June 8, Lopez and officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) explored ways to level up current industry practices with the PFFI. For one, DTI already has a sustainable Shared Service Facilities (SSF) Project with PFFI that houses machines and equipment serving as common service facilities for efficient, quality and innovative production. 


Among the SSF projects is the High Value Custom-Made Footwear, which intends to capture a market that prefers custom-made shoes, featuring new methodologies in shoe engineering, footwear design and manufacturing. It also uses state-of-the-art scanner that automatically produces a 3D model of the foot in seconds for measuring and size estimation. 


“Small shoemakers take turns in using the equipment. They need to expand the capacity and add more and newer machines,” Lopez said.  


Within the compound where the SSF is located is DTI’s Negosyo Center-Marikina and the Philippine Footwear Academy that aims to produce job-ready workers for the Marikina footwear industry. The Academy is considered the first and only footwear school in Asean. 


Meanwhile, the trade chief guaranteed PFFI that DTI remains committed in supporting the Marikina shoe industry from the policy and program level that will improve access to raw materials and supply chain, as well as enjoin the government and private sectors to give preference to buying locally made shoes. 


Assistance on design creation through the Design Center of the Philippines up to provision of market access and promotion through the Go Lokal! stores in malls, national and international trade fairs and exhibitions and the internationally recognized Manila FAME will also be provided. 


Headed by its President Roger Py, PFFI is composed of footwear manufacturers, retailers, cooperatives and allied industries from Marikina, Laguna, Bulacan, San Mateo and Cebu, whose members belong to the sector of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 


On the same day, Lopez visited production facilities of Gibi Shoes Manufacturing, Bristol Shoes and microenterprises, like Ruperta Enterprises, all of which are based in Marikina. He called on industry leaders to initiate the kind of entrepreneurship that is idea-based, demand-driven and innovation-led. Lopez also visited Marikina’s pride Rolando “Tatay Oly” Santos, the shoemaker, who gave President Duterte a pair of shoes as a gift, which the president wore during his international meetings with heads of state. Lopez learned the common sentiments of small Marikina shoemakers in terms of machines, shoe molds and working capital.  


Tatay Oly, who is currently borrowing from five to six loan sharks, got emotional when he was assured of working capital assistance from Duterte’s Pondo para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso, or the P3 microfinancing program.


The trade chief also talked to some of Marikina’s talented and hardworking designers and artisans, who also serve as trainers in the DTI’s SSF project for MSMEs aspiring to take part in reviving Marikina’s shoe industry. 


“The Filipino artisanship and craftsmanship in designs, plus the highly skilled, highly trainable workforce that showcase ingenuity despite stiffer market competition will help bring back the glory of Marikina as the country’s shoe capital,” he said. •


By Celynne Layug and Brian Jay Ambulo


Business columns tend to feature opportunities for our exporters and industry stakeholders. Creative economy, creative thinking  and creative cities are topics not usually associated with trade and investment. However, it is a wellknown saying that the first industrial revolution was driven by engineering; the second was driven by electricity and production lines; the third was technology and innovation; and the modern economies that undergo a fourth revolution are those that embrace and support human creativity.


As the Philippines explores new ways of diversifying its industries, how does creativity—the engine for ideas, heritage, culture and the arts—make way for job creation, social inclusion and economic growth and development?


Creative economy is not a recent concept. Professor Howkins, who coined this term and was also the keynote speaker of the Asean Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition held from April 24 to 27 at the BGC Arts Center in Taguig City advocates for creativity, as it engages and it reaches more participation from people. He believes that in these times, more than ever, people are more creative and inventive. He established the “Three Propositions”, the basic foundations to consider in order to be successful in the industry: Everyone is creative; Creativity needs freedom; and Freedom needs markets.


Creativity was also at the forefront of Inclusive Innovation Summit at the Manila Peninsula held from June 1. Dado Banatao, a Filipino entrepreneur who invented two of the foundation technologies in every PC today and founded three technology start-ups that became the third-most profitable company in the world in 1993, emphasized the value of creativity in creating disruptive technologies and technology solutions.  


Creativity has been deeply associated with performing and visual arts in general. Although truly embedded in the arts, creativity stretched far way broader than the said sector. Creativity is a mentality, a mindset on how to make something out of nothing, or something out of something, of executing different ideas, from the mundane to the extraordinary.  Coining the term creative economy is a way to acknowledge and to recognize the significance of creativity in driving economic growth and being a part of development.


Creativity is not a trend that dies and gets reborn. It is through creativity that our ancestors came up with the tools used for food gathering, the boats we used for maritime journeys for ease of trade. It is the same creativity that led the people to express themselves through literature, movement and visuals, and the same creativity that made us more connected now more than ever. Above all else, creativity is a celebration of ideas, on how people approach problems and how we come up with breakthrough solutions.


Creative economy, an important link to inclusive growth

Creative economy is now a mass movement globally, but the Philippines has yet to catch-up due to the perception that engaging in the creative economy is a hobby, a costly endeavor and an unpredictable incomegenerator.  Similar to the Philippines’s micro, small, and medium enterprise and entrepreneurship movement, there has to be a change of mindset, not only for the youth who have a lot of potential to be successful in this economy, but also to the mature target participants, such as the parents and the indigenous elders.


We can drive profit out of ideas and creative inputs.  If there is anything the Philippines is known for, it is our rich pool of talent, heritage and creativity—from singing, acting, directing, fashion, natural, cultural, tangible and intangible heritage, among others.  It determines who and, what we are; it is nonrenewable and, sadly, we are not capitalizing on such invaluable resource. Filipinos need the right environment to unleash their potential. We have to evolve into something more innate that would impact how we see a problem, and then translate it into a solution via an innovative or out-ofthe box service or product.


The Philippine government has started laying the foundation by dedicating a chapter on culture, creativity and innovation under Chapter 7 of Philippine Development Plan 2017 to 2022. Under the Malasakit pillar, the government prioritizes sustaining and enhancing cultural assets to foster creativity and innovation for national development. Furthermore, the Department of Trade and Industry champions the establishment and recognition of the creative economy and its potential to be the next ITBPM industry of the country.


Developing and sustaining creative cities

While the creative-economy movement should be a national initiative, local government units (LGUs) have a critical role in the movement through the development of creative cities. As an international platform, the Unesco Creative Cities Network (UCCN), brings cities and communities around the world together in sharing best practices and ideas in the field of creative industries and urban development. Four cities in the Asean have already been inscribed in the list of the UCCN: Singapore for design; Phuket in Thailand for gastronomy; Bandung in Indonesia for design; and Pekalongan in Indonesia for crafts and folk art. As the Philippines envisions to have at least one of our cities inscribed by next year, it is assuring to hear reports of a number of LGUs applying to be part of the UCCN. There is an increasing appreciation that a creative city has a vast potential of increasing tourism, increasing investments, increased employment and income for the city. Ultimately, these translate to new and innovative products and services, and serve as a gateway to look at creativity and culture on a different light.


In sum, what can be the ingredients for a creative city and a creative economy?


1. Love of culture and heritage— Distinctiveness that shall translate to niche products, unique services, and innovative solutions to everyday problems;


2. Accessibility and participation —New ideas emanate from recycled ideas. People need to have interaction to inspire development of new ideas and creative thinking.  This is possible when people convene, brainstorm and collaborate;


3. Livability—A conducive physical infrastructure for the people to convene and expound on ideas;


4. Talent development and support;


5. Political will to enshrine creative thinking into development policies in local level; and


6. Entrepreneurship.


Celynne Layug is the program director for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Asean 2017 Committee on Business and Investment Promotion (CBIP) and a Foreign Trade Service Officer of the FTSC. Brian Ambulo is a Program Manager for the DTI Asean CBIP and worked closely with the Design Center of the Philippines during the Asean Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition. To get to know more about the Asean 2017 Business and Investment Program and how you can participate, kindly e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. •

By Glenn G. Penarada / Commercial Counsellor, PTIC Singapore


Singapore remains a strong economically for the Philippines. The country is its third source of investment in the world, with a contribution of $156.2 million in the $7.933-billion net foreign direct investments of the Philippines in 2016.


Singapore is also the No. 1 source of investment in the Asean for the Philippines in the same period. Investment pledges from Singapore have been channeled into agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing and construction sectors.


Singapore is also the fourth largest export market of the Philippines with exports amounting to $3.7 billion in 2016. In addition to electronic components, the country imports a variety of Philippine raw ingredients, fresh and processed seafood, and fresh produce, particularly fresh crab, lobster, prawn, banana, pineapple, mango and durian. Other household processed brands from the Philippines are now found in Singapore hotels, ship chandlers and retail stores, such as FairPrice, Giant, Lucky Plaza Mall and Chinatown.


With  a  per-capita  GDP  of $51,162, Singapore is an affluent market in search of premium products. For its more than 5 million residents, 15.5 million annual tourists and the 180,000 Filipinos living in the country, the food service market is strong.


According to Euromonitor, well-priced and quick-serve options from street stalls and kiosks and home delivery or takeaway services are in high demand because of busy lifestyles. A government initiative for healthy dining has also affected the market, with consumers preferring natural and fresh products. Aside from this, Singapore also has ship-handling operations and is a trading hub for third markets for investors.


Naturally, one of the best prospects for Philippine business in Singapore lies in the food industry. Apart from the fresh produce, there is a demand for the wide spectrum of halal-certified foods, from cereals to baked goods, ice cream to noodles, oils to condiments and more.


Other priority export opportunities include engineering and architecture services, where Philippine talent and resources, including the 62,000 information-technology-enabled and English-proficient graduates that join the work force each year, are tapped for core research and product development purposes, procurement procedures and even critical construction projects.


Aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services are also in demand.  Seventy-five Filipino MRO companies, which specialize in airframe heavy maintenance, engine and APU main tenance, component or systems maintenance, repair services and aircraft interiors MRO, already provide support to Singapore’s growing aerospace industry.


Franchising is notably robust, especially for Filipinos, who have been identified as the second largest pool of professionally certified franchising executives in the world, next to the US.


In Singapore local brands, such as Jollibee, Yellow Cab, Tapa King, Gerry’s Grill, Bench and LBC Express, have opened branches, while companies, such as Ayala Corp., Megaworld, BDO Unibank, Philippine Airlines, PLDT and Manila Electric Co., also have presence.


The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, and Investment Centre (PTIC) in Singapore, promotes the entrepreneurial alliance between Singapore and the Philippines. With the goal of tuning more Filipinos toward entrepreneurship in order to spur wealth and economic growth, the agency creates the best environment for Filipino businesses to become competitive, sustainable and profitable. Its activities include organizing missions in trade fairs to establish partnerships between local businesses and Singapore-based companies.


The PTIC also engages in promotional activities, such as connecting Filipino businesses with Singaporean buyers and importers in major trade fairs, such as the Manila FAME and International Food Exhibition (Ifex) Philippines. The agency has also organized trips to the Philippines for Singapore companies seeking to diversify their fruit and vegetable offerings and conducted Filipino food-tasting events for the Singapore press.


The PTIC also helps Filipino start-up companies find partners in Singapore and in the country. The agency, through the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau, has, for example, introduced the Singapore-based Cebuano founders of GeoPik (a new app that shortens long addresses into code for easy delivery of goods) to potential venture-capital firms and users in the Philippines. Local entrepreneurs can also seek assistance from the QBO Innovation Hub, a cowork space in the DTI International Building in Makati. The hub offers start-ups and innovators opportunities for market access and capital and mentorship.


In Manila Filipino business- men who would like to explore opportunities in Singapore can contact the coordinating office of the DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) in the DTI headquarters, as well as the Negosyo Centers across the country. These offices offer information, training, credit facilities, networks and other forms of assistance. The Negosyo Centers, in particular, provide support ser vices, such as business registration assistance, advisory services, monitoring and evaluation, which are needed to encourage the development of micro, small and medium enterprises.


Outside the Philippines, Filipinos can also connect with PTIC agencies of the DTI- FTSC for trade preferences, commercial intelligence and introduction to importers and buyers. The DTI-FTSC has a network of 26 Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in major international markets, including Singapore.


For more information, visit

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