FoodPhilippines, the country’s signature brand for food items under the Department of Trade and Industry’s Center for International Trade Exhibitions and Missions (DTI-CITEM), surprised buyers and attendees of the recently concluded Winter Fancy Food Show (WFFS) held in San Francisco, USA from 21 to 23 January 2018.

Organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) in partnership with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in San Francisco, FoodPHILIPPINES’ showcased variety of specialty food product offerings by seventeen (17) of the best and biggest Philippine food exporters.

According to Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter panel, FILIPINO CUISINE is among the top food trends anticipated at the 43rd WFFS. Other top trends are Plant-based foods, Upcycled products, Goth food, Alt-Sweet, Product labeling 2.0, Root to stem, Cannabis cuisine, a (deeper) feast from the Middle East, and the rise of traditional bread.

The country’s participation at the said food show is among DTI’s major efforts for 2018 in advancing the promotion of Philippine specialty food products in overseas trade shows. The participation attracted support from many Philippine exporters including Arko Foods, Bethany Sales, Inc. (Tamcor Mexim USA), Century Pacific Food, Inc., Hacienda Macalauan, Inc., Islamic Da'wah Council of the Philippines, JNRM Corporation, Magical Blend Marketing International, Magic Melt Foods, Inc., Mama Sita's (Marigold Manufacturing Corporation), Monde M.Y. San Corporation, Pasciolco Agri Ventures, Profood International Corporation, Sagrex Food Incorporation, San Miguel Pure Foods, Inc., Seabest Food Beverage Corporation, Subic Superfood, Inc., and Super Q.

Philippine Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr., welcomed the delegation in their respective booths in the pavilion during the show opening on 21 January following a discussion with his economic diplomacy team about expanding trade opportunities between the West Coast and the Philippines on 22 January. He also hosted the delegates and their prospective business partners in a welcome reception providing an opportunity for Philippine companies to deepen their discussions with importers and buyers.

WFFS is the US West Coast’s largest specialty and food beverage event, with an estimated 20,000 visitors annually, 1,500 exhibitors and showcases more than 80,000 different specialty food products and beverages from the US and across the globe.

During its 2017 participation in WFF, the delegation secured a total of US$ 48.73 million negotiated sales in 463 inquiries from trade buyers, exceeding targets and recording its highest sales in its four years of participation in the WFFS.

The US is one of the largest foreign investors in the Philippines and the country’s third-largest trading partner. The Philippines has been among the largest beneficiaries of the US’ Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme for developing countries, which provides preferential duty-free access to the U.S. market.♦

 FoodPhilippines at WFFS, SF, USA
In photo: Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. with the Philippine food delegation at the 2018 Winter Fancy Food Show, Moscone Center, San Francisco.


San Francisco PCG hosts first startup meetup featuring QBO

San Francisco, CA — QBO (pronounced “kubo”) Innovation Hub, a Philippine public-private partnership (PPP) whose objective is to spur the development of the Filipino startup companies, visited San Francisco on the first week of November 2017.  The delegation, composed of QBO President Rene “Butch” Meily, Director Katrina Chan, and Operations Head Natasha Bautista, met with Silicon Valley startup incubators and accelerators to learn best practices for Philippine application.

QBO met with Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. and the Philippine Consulate General’s economic team to apprise them of recent developments in the Philippine startup ecosystem, and to synchronize activities in support of the Philippines’ economic development objectives through the advancement of science, technology, and innovation.

The Philippine Consulate General also featured QBO in first IT-oriented Filipino American event called the “StartUp MeetUp” held on 2 November 2017.  The networking event gave QBO the opportunity to present their projects and activities with the Philippine Government, and to inform the Filipino American IT professionals in Silicon Valley of the results of the country’s ever comprehensive study of the Philippine startup ecosystem.  The event was followed by a public discourse and exchange of ideas on how the Philippine startup ecosystem could flourish.

In his opening remarks, Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. encouraged the Filipino Americans in IT to become stakeholders in the Philippines Government’s initiative to develop its startup sector: “We are here before you because of a vision: That of a Philippines, in the near future, having found its place in the vibrant world of tech; a Philippines that is able to fully harness the innate creativity and sharp minds of Filipino engineers and scientists to nourish a thriving startup ecosystem; a Philippines, fueled by techpreneurs, creating jobs, increasing productivity, and reaping economic opportunities for all Filipinos towards inclusive and long-term growth.  We invited you here to implore you, the young Filipino Americans who have lived, worked, and breathed the culture of boundless possibilities in Silicon Valley, to become catalysts for accelerating the growth of the Philippine startup ecosystem.”

The MeetUp series is part of the Philippine Consulate General’s push for the SPARK*CONNECT*EMPOWER movement.  By sparking interest in the country’s fledgling startup ecosystem among the Filipino Americans working in IT, and by connecting them not only with each other but also organizations both in the United States and the Philippines, the Consulate envisions an empowered Filipino American community able to help bridge the divide between what the Philippines’ startupecosystem is now, and what it could be; a Filipino American community that, in turn, empowers Kababayans back home.♦

Startups driving innovation through collaboration and creativity

The Philippines has a young and vibrant population and they can be catalysts for economic development. While disruptive technologies and the changing innovation landscape in the world can present challenges, there is a huge opportunity for the Philippines to empower its citizens to become entrepreneurs with the right ecosystem.

Embodying the principles of collaboration, Secretary Lopez, together with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program, are undertaking an assessment of innovation ecosystems that nurture more innovative MSMEs that create high value products and services.

The program included engagements with founders and innovators from the startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley such as the Plug and Play Tech Center and Global Silicon Valley accelerators as well as discussions with the Science and Technology Advisory Council –Silicon Valley.♦

DTI US coconut roadshow delegation
Philippine delegation for the 2017 Philippine Coconut Roadshow to the United States.

The Department of Trade and Industry through its Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) and Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTICs) in the United States recently concluded the 2017 Philippine Coconut Roadshow held from 6 to 24 September 2017 in key cities including Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

“We see the increasing healthy, non-GMO, and gluten- free lifestyle of the American market as a window of opportunity for our exporters to promote their products as well as showcase the Philippines as an ideal source for coconut-based products,” said DTI Trade and Investments Promotion Group Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado.

DTI supported 17 Philippine exporters enrolled in its Regional Interactive Platform for Philippine Exporters Plus (RIPPLES) program to extensively promote coconut oil and coconut-based products, including food, cosmetics, and personal care items to the huge US market.

Together with key officials from the United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP) and Virgin Coconut Oil Philippines (VCOP), the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in the United States (Washington, D.C. and San Francisco) assisted and organized business meetings between American and Philippine companies for potential partnerships that seek to enhance and expand exports of Philippine coconut-based products to the United States. The group also met with US doctors and scientists that have in-depth knowledge on the benefits of coconut oil.

The group participated in the 50th ASEAN Anniversary Forum organized by the ASEAN Trade Commissioners in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles. The meetings with leading importers and retail chains in Los Angeles and San Francisco generated market leads and market access platforms for the participants.

For the Washington, D.C. leg, the Philippine Companies met with the US Department of Agriculture, the Organic Trade Association, the US–Philippines Society, Foodshowcase, the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce, and Registrar Corporation.

Participating exporters and Philippine officials were also briefed on the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program, including identifying coconut products that could benefit from GSP treatment. Meetings held in Washington, D.C. highlighted the importance of trade policy issues when exporting to the United States, including compliance to US food safety regulations, labelling, and other non-tariff measures.

From 14 to 16 September, the delegation held a dialogue with several US companies during the Natural Product Expo East held in Baltimore, Maryland, considered as the East Coast’s leading trade show in the natural, organic, and healthy products industry. The delegation had a chance to exchange views on how to further promote and increase awareness to American consumers on the health benefits of coconut oil.

Participating companies include Amazing Foods Corp, Chemrez Technologies, Inc., Coco Plus, Coco Veda, Coconut Cures, Dignity, Eau de Coco, Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines, Galo Organic and Naturals, Greenlife Coconut Products Philippines, Inc., Hancole Corp., Marinduque Land Corporation, Pasciolco Agri Ventures, Nuco/ProSource International, Inc., Wellness Care International Inc., and Tongsan Industrial Development Corporation.

DTI’s Coconut Roadshow to the United States is in partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), an agency committed to promote the growth of the coconut industry.♦

Government agencies collaborate to develop a strong Philippine Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

A strong Philippine Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem that “promote collaborative agreements between industry, government, and the academe to encourage partnerships in support of advanced manufacturing and services” is a platform in achieving the objectives set out in the President’s Zero+10-Point socioeconomic agenda.

With a common objective of boosting inclusive innovation-led growth the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) are undertaking an assessment of patterns that support the creation of more MSMEs with an innovation-driven culture that results in high value products and services.

The program includes engagements with founders and innovators from the startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley as well as the change innovators at University of California – Berkeley.

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute at UC-Berkeley shared the programs and enabling environment available to its faculty and students that drives a thriving entrepreneurial culture. The institutions leverage the science and technology strengths of the University of California campuses within the greater startup ecosystem and innovative spirit of Silicon Valley. CITRIS and the Banatao institute is ultimately a model that can be emulated to facilitate interdisciplinary work among faculty members, students, corporate partners, and international institutions in the Philippine.

An inclusive innovation roadmap is currently being formulated by the DTI and DOST to sustain the high level growth that the Philippines has been experiencing, attract investments, create more and better jobs, and eliminate poverty in the country.

North Carolina based RTI International, the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) in Washington, DC, and the US Department of Commerce through its Small Business Innovation Research funding program are among the various institutions that will be providing benchmarks for the development of a strong support network for innovative Philippines businesses that can provide economic benefits to all Filipinos.

The undertaking is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) Program. The program continues to support collaborative initiatives of the Philippine government towards innovation-led growth, including the Inclusive Innovation Conference held last May 2017 with DTI and DOST, and through various studies for DTI to better assess innovation challenges in priority industry sectors.♦

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