Taipei, June 19 - A lineup of 11 top-tier food manufacturers and exporters from the Philippines were showcased at the opening of the 29th Taipei International Food Show (Food Taipei) in the country's capital on Wednesday.
The Philippine food companies, which stock food and ingredients that include canned fish, craft spirits and liquor, coconut oil and cream, ice cream cones, and chocolates were showcased at Food Taipei's FoodPhilippines pavilion, organized by the Philippines' representative office in Taiwan.
Michael Ignacio, director for commercial affairs at the Philippine Trade & Investment Center (PTIC) in Taipei, the commercial affairs section of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), said that this year the focus is on products that have the potential to do well in Taiwan.
"Taiwan is such a valuable, high value, high purchasing power market for us and we have a selection of Philippine companies that have a good chance of penetrating the mainstream market," Ignacio told CNA.
The focus is on the Taiwan mainstream market because it is much larger than the market of Filipino migrant workers, he added.
"There is a small number of Filipinos here, 150,000, compared to 24 million (Taiwanese), so we would rather target the 24 million Taiwanese as opposed to just targeting the Filipino market," Ignacio said.
The goal is more than US$25 million in pledges for orders, surpassing the amount of sales commitments recorded last year, Ignacio said, adding that the total monetary amount of pledges has increased over the years.
"Last year we reached a total of about US$25 million, and the year before was about US$23 million," Ignacio said.
He said the rationale for showcasing Filipino products in Taiwan is that the country can help act as a gateway to other advanced economies in East Asia.
"Taiwan is such a sophisticated market. If our products are able to sell and penetrate in such a sophisticated and modern market, then we can use it as a springboard to the rest of East Asia, for example, Japan and Korea."
Among the lineup, this year is coconut products manufacturer Manila-based Team Asia Corporation.
Jimmy Tang, director for Team Asia Corporation who also showcased his products at the Philippine pavilion last year, said he currently sells products worth US$400,000-US$500,000 to Taiwan every month.
Sidney John B. Morcozo of Century Pacific Food, Inc., who is planning to introduce canned milkfish products to the Taiwan market, said he knows Taiwan is a good market for Philippine food, including milkfish, because the countries have a similar taste in food.
"Particularly, because you know Taiwanese love hot and spicy foods so we have products that are spicy which will cater to the Taiwanese market," he said.
Mary Ann G. Roque, marketing manager of Destileria Limutaco & Co., Inc, the oldest distillery in the Philippines, established in 1852, said this is the second time that the company has showcased products in Taiwan and through her distributor in the country, the reception has been good for its fruit-based liquors.
"For them to taste them, it is like paradise, when they try, they feel like they are in the Philippines," she said.
Gilberto Lauengco, vice chairman of MECO, said that previous Food Taipei shows have brought success for Filipino products, including chocolate and snack foods, and they would like to repeat that success.
"Taiwan, especially Taipei, is a popular destination for food buyers around the globe. People come here to look at the next best thing in food and beverage, and food technology," he said.
The PTIC has showcased food products from the Philippines for more than 10 years at Food Taipei, which kicked off Wednesday and runs through Saturday.