PASAY CITY, PHILIPPINES — Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual hailed the successful 17th edition of the International Food Expo (IFEX) Philippines as Filipino food manufacturers took the spotlight at the nation’s biggest food expo.

The DTI, through its attached agency Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), drew in more than 500 exhibitors and event partners from across the country, showcasing the latest innovation in food manufacturing and their new products.

Secretary Pascual expressed his support saying this year’s IFEX theme salu-salo reflects the country’s efforts in highlighting Filipino ingenuity and creativity, as well as fostering entrepreneurship in the food and beverage industry.

“Through our collaboration with other sectors of society, this salu-salo perfectly encapsulates our creativity and entrepreneurial spirit through food driving growth and development to all peoples of economic classes,” said the DTI chief.

The food expo drew over 5,000 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City, Philippines. Members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of government agencies, international and local trade buyers and partners, retail customers, and media outlets also joined the opening ceremony on 10 May 2024.

From L to R: Halal Export Board Member, Private Sector Representative Coyogan Bansao, Brunei Ambassador to the Philippines Megawati Dato Paduka Haji Manan, DTI Undersecretary Ana Carolina P. Sanchez DTI Halal Industry Development Program Office (HIDPO) Deputy Executive Director Dimnatang M. Radia, and HIDPO Division Chief Raison Arobinto

Meanwhile, DTI Undersecretary Ana Carolina Sanchez underscored the importance of delivering comprehensive mechanisms to allow for inclusive growth opportunities and sustainable development. She emphasized the Department’s dedication to bolstering the food industry through strategic public-private partnerships, highlighting the collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Clark International Airport Corporation on the Three-Year Food Logistic Action Agenda to establish secure and affordable food distribution networks across the nation.

“To see trade as a domino effect across the varied communities and industries we want to help, up to the partners we meet along the way, the ones opening their own networks to allow us to reach the world’s vast corners. This is the lifeline of our agricultural sector that we endeavor to strengthen and protect. Starting from our farmers up to the end consumers, if we continue to deliver on our commitments, soon demands for our export products will grow,” Undersecretary Sanchez said.

CITEM Officer-In-Charge and Deputy Executive Director Ma. Lourdes Mediran also said that the power of food to bring a sense of community and belonging is the perfect vehicle to show the world the excellent food offerings, innovative crafts, and export capabilities of the Philippines.

CITEM’s export food promotion efforts for this year is to espouse the unifying concept of a traditional Filipino celebration of salu-salo or feast, which reflects the community of food micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), manufacturers, producers, distributors, and consumers in the export value chain.

Senator Mark Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, echoed the importance of effective partnerships during his keynote address. He congratulated CITEM for bringing IFEX Philippines to life and its continuous efforts to champion the country’s food and talent.

He added that while others may call Filipino food exotic, it is more of the innate creativity that makes it stand out, adding that it becomes a worthwhile experience when shared. “It is a platform where visions are turned into reality and opportunities are seized,” the senator said of IFEX.

Wishing for more food expositions like IFEX in the country, Senator Villar expressed his strong commitment in further championing the food industry, assuring CITEM of having a staunch ally in the Senate.

Among the major groups that benefit and are crucial to the success of the food trade industry are the MSMEs. During the ceremony, highlights of the media salu-salo were shown, followed by the announcement of the complete list of the latest winners of the Katha Awards for Food. These winning products were also available at the exhibition floor, along with thousands of export-quality food and beverage offerings.

Meanwhile, DA Agribusiness and Marketing Service (DA-AMAS) OIC and Director Junibert de Sagun, commended IFEX for continuing to be a world-class showcase for Philippine food, as well as the dedication and hard work of the participating exhibitors that include over 42 regional exhibitors.

The DA official said that beyond serving as a B2B platform, IFEX stands as an opportunity to foster more trade relations and economic opportunities. He is optimistic that last year’s sales in agriculture can be surpassed with the help of its partners and programs like CITEM and IFEX Philippines. “As we continue to share our language of food to the world, we look forward to more fruitful partnerships for a masaganang Philippines.

Other notable figures from the public sector include Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) President Sergio Ortis-Luis Jr., Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega, Pangasinan Governor Ramon Guico III, and the founder and very first president of CITEM, Dr. Mina Gabor who was also a former Tourism Secretary. International delegates from Argentina, Brunei, Malaysia, and Pakistan also witnessed the occasion.

Following the formal opening, CITEM guided the guests inside the various show components of the exhibition to meet and greet the participating exhibitors in their respective booths, and mingle with other trade visitors. DTI Usec. Sanchez also officially opened the Philippine Halal Pavilion.

The DA, featured exhibitors offering the “Premium 7” that is part of the continuous promotion of the country’s top crops. These raw food supplies are highly in demand for their various potential beyond food production. The Premium 7 are composed of the following: banana, cacao, coconut, coffee, mango, pineapple, and tuna.

The IFEX is the biggest food expo in the country that provides a platform for food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to showcase their products to an international audience. ♦

Date of release: 13 May 2024