Dubai Expo gets a taste of Filipino food products

Published April 6, 2022, 11:39 AM

by MB Lifestyle

‘There is still so much to discover and explore in the Philippines in terms of food and culture.’

Jazzie Dayao of Market Reach International, Export Sales Manager Nas Arcayan (MRI CMO), MRI CEO Jiten Lalwani, CITEM Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan, CITEM Assistant Division Chief Zharita Bagayas, CITEM’s Cristalle Bernardo and Jojo Pareno, and MRI HR Manager Diwata Balbas

Global distributor of renowned Filipino brands Market Reach International (MRI) represented the Philippines at Gulfood, the biggest annual trade exhibition in the world that brings together innovators and visionaries in the food and beverage industry from across the globe. The event happened recently at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“It was such an honor to represent our country at Gulfood and to have made quality Filipino brands and products more known to other cultures. I’m glad to see that despite the challenges and disruptions the world experienced these last two years due to COVID-19, the demand for food remains robust,” MRI founder and CEO Jatin Lalwani said in a meeting on the future of F and B export with Center for International Trade Expositions and Mission (CITEM).

Lalwani added, “Apart from bringing hardworking OFWs a piece of home, joining Gulfood allowed MRI to see the huge untapped market that could catapult Filipino brands, particularly small family-owned ones or the mom-and-pops, into the mainstream.”

MRI is a partner to some of the top food and beverage brands in the Philippines including Unilever, Century, and Regent, as well as to independently owned ones. It participated in the expo to support the efforts of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in promoting the Philippines to the international market amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Pauline Suaco-Juan, executive director of CITEM, an agency under DTI, while the majority of the export sector has suffered during the pandemic due to declining demand, food has proved to be one of the more resilient industries.

“By promoting and exporting Filipino food products, we are creating new opportunities for our local farming communities, manufacturers, and businesses to tap the huge demand for food worldwide,” Suaco-Juan said.

“Apart from economic benefits, exporting food can help socially and culturally. Members of Filipino communities who are not able to go back to the country due to travel restrictions can still taste their favorite homegrown flavors via exported products.”

Suaco-Juan sees the future of exporting Filipino food to be “both economically and socially promising,” especially with the rising demand for healthy and organic products, which the Philippines stands as one of the premier sources.

“The country is one of the leading exporters of coffee, tuna, mango, and cacao. Aptly called the “Premium 7,” these seven products have made the Philippines a premier food sourcing destination in the international market,” she said.

Suaco-Juan points out that apart from international shows, the world of social media and streaming services have been highly instrumental in amplifying the promotion of Filipino cuisine, restaurants, and chefs all over the world.

She believes, however, that although the presence of Filipino culinary heritage on digital platforms effectively promotes Filipino flavors and ingredients, “there is still so much to discover and explore in the Philippines in terms of food and culture.”