“The Japanese drink vinegar for health reasons,” says Ms. Linda Corsiga, owner and general manager of Sorsogon Foods Enterprises. “But it was the first time they tasted our coconut vinegar with wild honey—they loved it!”
Other top-selling food products were Escaba Food Products, Inc.’s fruit mix and macapuno strings, and Frescomar Seahelm Corp.’s tuna ham and tuna fish.
CITEM organized the Philippine participation through the invitation of ASEAN–Japan Centre, forming a delegation that featured local food companies bringing along their specialties: Sorsogon Foods Enterprises (specialty vinegars), Escaba Food Products, Inc. (tropical sweet preserves) and Frescomar Seahelm Corp. (value-added tuna products).
The food fair featured 29 manufacturers from nine member countries—Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and the Philippines—and catered to 172 trade visitors including representatives from 122 companies.
The Philippine delegation ranked among the top Asean countries in terms of number of business meetings with a total of 91, more than double the original target of 45 inquiries.
“Before we left for Tokyo, we had three scheduled business meetings,” Ms. Corsiga says. “But, when we got there, I was surprised that inquiries kept coming in. We had 26 in three days.”
While the Japanese are nationalistic when it comes to their choice of products, Ms. Corsiga is optimistic about the acceptability of Philippine exports especially their own coconut vinegar with wild honey. She sees Japan as a feasible market and was elated in saying: “We could provide an alternative to their Japanese vinegar. Even the younger ones who visited our booth liked our vinegar with wild honey—that’s a good sign.”
Ms. Corsiga continued: “one Japanese buyer had already bought a box of our products and have scheduled a visit to our factory at the end of the November.”
Japan has a high buying power for food and beverage market worth US$225 billion. Japan presently imports 60% of its food supply of US$44 billion annually. Last year, total food imports to Japan reached ¥226 billion, of which, 11.6% was the total import from ASEAN member countries. (End)