A digital frontier on food sourcing

Published August 26, 2021, 11:00 AM

by Jules Vivas

CITEM brings one of the largest food fairs online, and launches two new platforms for the food community

The local food industry is in a tight spot. Many restaurants have shut down temporarily, some even permanently, because of the ongoing pandemic. To this day, no dine in is allowed. Restaurateurs are given little choice on the matter. One of the few options is doing business purely online. This does not only apply to establishments but to food fairs as well.

One of the Philippines’ biggest international trade exhibitions, IFEX Philippines is set to present its first-ever online iteration aptly called IFEX Digital Expo. This signature event for the food sector organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is set to take place next month, from the Sept. 23 to 25.

The fair continues its mission to promote Philippine food by showcasing a wide array of diverse food products, ingredients, and knowledge uniquely Filipino. It will be hosted in the Hopin online event platform, and will feature a mainstage, which will present a program on the latest innovations in the food industry.

Breakout session will also be held simultaneously, where participants can explore segment-specific topics, discussions, and other featured content. Not only will there be a great deal of learning, there is networking involved too. Users can familiarize themselves with business support organizations, brands, and export enablers.

“As we grow our efforts to provide a comprehensive and unique trade show experience for all our stakeholders, we want to make sure that CITEM delivers the best service at every touchpoint whether for on-site, hybrid, or fully digital events,” says Pauline Suaco-Juan, executive director of CITEM.

Coinciding with the digital expo is the public launch of a new promotion website, FOODPhilippines.com, and the new lead generation platform, IFEXConnect.com.

A website synonymous to the banner brand for all of CITEM’s food initiatives, FOODPhilippines.com will be a digital chronicle on the local food sector. It will feature stories about Filipino ingredients, flavors, processes, techniques, recipes, heritage, culinary talents, and regional specialties. All of these to build interest and start conversations about Philippine food.

IFEXConnect.com, on the other hand, will be the agency’s new lead generation and promotion platform. It will house the digital storefronts of top Philippine food manufacturers and suppliers, and exhibit their offerings. Available 24/7 year-round, the platform will likewise allow buyers from all over the world to directly connect with local companies they wish to be associated and partner with.

We look forward to building a community that will let the world savor the best of Philippine food. —Pauline Suaco Juan, CITEM executive director

“IFEXConnect.com is envisioned to be a sourcing platform that features digital storefronts of our food exporters and showcases their top-line products,” explains Rowena Mendoza, OIC head of CITEM’s operations group for the food sector. “Ready to serve the global market, the website also has a business-matching facility to connect our exhibitors with international buyers much easier.”

The website includes a space for digital events that focus on industry insights, best practices, and new market demands, exclusively for registered users.

CITEM is running content amelioration programs to assist micro, small, and medium enterprise or MSMEs in the creating product photos and brand copies to optimize user experience and searchability online. The project initialized with a pilot batch of 100 MSMEs with top food stylist Chichi Tullao and food photographer Justin de Jesus helping in the production.

The export promotion arm of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) employed the expertise of premier food industry storytellers, namely advertising veteran and managing director and executive creative director of Dojo Joey Ong as chief storyteller, and chef, food writer, and author of the bestselling cookbooks From our Table to Yours and Also Filipino Angelo Comsti as editor of the two platforms.

“CITEM, works hand in hand with these food luminaries along with ODV Creative who offered strategic support for content production and event management, and UM Philippines for web development,” adds Pauline. “We are proud to have built a homegrown website and we look forward to building a community that will let the world savor the best of Philippine food.”

Click here for exhibitor registration.

Click here for buyer registration.