By Roderick Abad

13 October 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

FOOD products from the Philippines—particularly fruits, coconuts, cacao, nuts, vegetables and fish—have a big export potential in Russia, the Philippine Trade and  Investment Center in Moscow (PTIC-Moscow) said.

The team said some Russian importers, buyers and distributors showed interest in many locally produced goods during the World Food Moscow held recently in Expocenter participated in by 1,516 exhibitors and 44 country pavilions.

Based on their discussions from the cold meetings they conducted with 26 Russian company-participants of the event, the improving trade relations between the two countries also opens an opportunity for the Philippines as an import source of Russia.

“The best for us is to do frozen or individually quick frozen products because of the worries about transportation issues,” said Kristine Umali, commercial counselor of PTIC-Moscow.

She cited, for instance, more interests in fruits such as bananas, pineapples and mangoes, as well as vegetables like cauliflower. There is mild interest, though, in exotic fruits like passion fruit, she noted.

“Frozen fruits can be processed and sold as an ingredient,” Umali said. “Because of the healthier trends, fruits are often added as ingredients in snacks.”

Meanwhile, coconut sugar, organic cacao and nuts have the potential for use in healthy snacks, Umali said. She added that organic products such as mango flour could be sold as either input or finished product.

With regard to seafood and fish, there is a likelihood for Russia to outsource frozen tuna and tilapia from the Philippines.

“But it has to be in fillet form because the demand of the Russian market is mainly for boneless fish,” Umali said.

Seeing the local products’ promising future of penetrating the Russian market, the country’s trade and investment office there recommends World Food Moscow as among the top choice shows abroad the Philippines should participate in for the promotion of local food products.

Such global event focuses on 11 sectors: Confectionary, grocery, canned foods, oils, dairy products, meat and poultry, drinks, fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, tea and coffee and organic products.

The country’s participation in this international food exhibit organized by ITE, a British exhibition organizer, could be done either by setting up a pavilion or have Filipino exporters exhibit their products.

This will be made possible with the support of either the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem) or DTI regional offices.

“Based on observation and the experience of the PTIC Moscow team, World Food Moscow would be a good venue to have B2B [business-to-business] meetings for potential sourcing of Russian companies of food products from the Philippines whether as finished products, under private labeling or under the Philippine brand or as raw ingredients/inputs to food that will be further processed,” Umali said.

She emphasized that local company-participants must be prepared with the price lists of goods, costs of logistics and length of time to ship to Russia via Saint Petersburg, their choice of port, as well as ready with an offer to Russian buyers and importers.

While most of the companies are interested in what Philippine exhibitors can offer, she said Russian companies still lack knowledge and information on local food products and goods, as well as about the Philippines in general.

“Post further recommends that promo materials of the Philippine companies should be in Russian as only a few Russians speak English,” she further suggested.

For continued dialogue, PTIC-Moscow plans to continue to engage with the Russian companies they met during the expo for follow-throughs and will also link them with EMB and Filipino exporters who would be interested to do business with and supply Russian buyers.