Australia’s biggest supermarket and retail chain Woolworths or ‘Woolies’ is now carrying several distinctively favorite Filipino products on their shelves following the high demand when lockdowns were imposed during the outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.
Thanks also in part to the response of a growing multicultural population and increasingly adventurous Australian mainstream consumers, Woolworths is ramping up the number of store locations where Philippine products can be found. The Philippine products now available alongside the world’s famous brands in the international food section of the Woolies are Filipino sauces and mixes from vinegar to soy sauce, salty snacks, biscuits, rice noodles, and other local favorites.
According to the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, the distribution of Filipino products has expanded to 60 stores across Australia from only a dozen in 2019 with more stores being eyed in the next 3-5 years.
Philippine Trade Representative to Australia Alma Argayoso said they aim to grow the market and make Filipino products more available not only to Filipinos but also to Australian buyers.
“The Filipino mom-and-pop shops will remain as they have unique offerings, style, and culture catering to the Filipino community, but if we are aiming to target the majority of Australians, we have to be in the mainstream stores,” she said.
Other Philippine-made products, either branded or toll-packed in the Philippines, such as canned tropical fruit, fruit juices, banana chips, virgin coconut oil, coconut water, coconut flour, and other coconut products are also available in the mainstream aisles of Woolworths and are widely distributed in over 900 Woolworths stores Australia-wide.
While the demand for Filipino favorite products noticeably increased when lockdown measures were imposed as stuck-at-home Filipino-Australians have turned into cooking more exotic dishes and trying out new recipes, market players predict an increase “even beyond the pandemic.”
“There is an increasing awareness now about Filipino cuisine and the availability of products and ingredients in the mainstream supermarkets will further drive demand,” said Bob Harris, marketing consultant for DHN Trading, the company that has pioneered stocking Filipino staple pantry goods in Woolworths.