When I was asked to write an article for Philippine Panorama about Filipino food brands that excel abroad, it got me thinking about our brands. Right off the bat, I could only think of two brands that have global reach—San Miguel and Jollibee.
San Miguel Beer is quite popular in neighboring Asian countries like Singapore and Hong Kong. It is actually the preferred beer brand in Hong Kong. Refer to this map by Vine Pair. Jollibee, on the other hand, is getting a lot of international recognition (aside from purchasing global fast food brands) especially after celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain ate at one of its branches in the US, which was showcased in his show. BuzzFeed is also responsible for a lot of taste test videos that includes the Filipinos’ favorite fast food restaurant.
In recent years, however, more local brands are putting the Philippines in the world map as a source of premium products. Local companies are producing high quality products that can compete against the best in the world.
“You see, the international market stereotypes the Philippines as a supplier of ‘raw’ materials instead of ‘premium finished goods.’ So when we go out and sell to them our jams, there’s always that price shock because international buyers expect our products to be unreasonably cheap, having had the habit of buying raw, unprocessed food,” explains Maria Rivera-Kapfer owner of Island Gems fruit preserves and jams.
JAMS FROM THE ISLAND
Island Gems produces high quality jams and preserves, using only the best fruit produce of the Philippines and using no preservatives. Established in 2012 by Maria and husband Chris, it won the Katha Food Awards in 2015 and was picked as a SIAL Innovation Selection (ASEAN) in the same year. Its jam flavors include: mango, mango-calamansi, calamansi, strawberry, bignay berries, ube (purple yam), and pineapple-coconut. It also bottles Filipino favorite laing or taro leaves cooked in coconut milk, shrimp paste, and chilies. Its mango jam proved to be popular in South Korea and with hope, Maria says, that if the plan pushes through, it will be available in every major supermarket in the East Asian country. (mangoislandgems.com)
RUM FROM NEGROS
The province of Negros Occidental is the “Sugar Capital of the Philippines.” A lot of its land is dedicated to sugar cane plantations. And one of the products that come from sugar cane is rum. Rum is made from sugar cane byproducts like molasses. Negros is where Don Papa Rum is made. Owned by the Bleeding Heart Company, Don Papa has been getting recognition worldwide, thanks to its founder, Stephen Carroll a former executive of Remy Cointreau. Don Papa is available in 16 countries and is especially popular in France and Germany. Also, the rum is produced by Ginebra San Miguel, the maker of the world’s best-selling gin. (www.donpaparum.com)
CHOCOLATE FROM DAVAO
The Philippines is fortunate enough to be one of the best places on Earth to grow cacao trees. This means that the Philippines can produce its own chocolates. Like what I wrote in a previous post, the cacao industry here in the Philippines has a lot of potential, thus, more local companies have been producing high quality chocolate products. One of them is Malagos Chocolate of Davao. Its 65% Dark Chocolate received a silver medal in the 2015 World Drinking Chocolate Competition organized by the International Chocolate Awards. In the same year, Malagos 100% Unsweetened Chocolate was awarded a bronze medal by Britain’s Academy of Chocolate. Owner Rex Puentespina is hoping to market the company’s chocolate soon on a global scale. (malagoschocolate.com)
Read my full Philippine Panorama article here.