It was a profusion of excellent local brands and produce at this year’s IFEX.
The International Food Expo (IFEX) is one of Asia’s biggest food and ingredients fairs, and I have been going to this event ever since I was in college, when some of my friends worked as interns at the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM). I always like going to the expo because I get to see what’s up and coming in the Philippine food and drink industry.
This year, it was a profusion of local brands that have the desire to penetrate other different markets. This event is important because local brands can put up exhibits so that buyers from other countries can gain a familiarity of local food items and products. It promotes export-oriented products to other nationalities, so that we can bring Filipino products that we can be proud of to different countries, helping industries and local business in the process.
Held at the World Trade Center Manila in Pasay, buyers and guests got to go through the different pavilions and booths that were spread out in the massive complex. Aside from local brands and products, the expo this year also featured food products from other neighboring Asian countries such as China, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Myanmar were also invited to showcase their products, in line with the Philippines’ hosting of the ASEAN Summit this year.
The expo also offeeds food, wine, and beverage tasting; food seminars; as well as retail service at the Market Place where local food brands, fresh agricultural and aquamarine products; healthy, natural, and organic produce are laid out for all eager shoppers and food connoisseurs.
What got me excited in particular is the profusion of local chocolate brands that have made waves in the local market. Many brands such as Malagos and Theo and Philo have been recognized as great cacao products from Davao and other sources in the country, and the former has even received international awards for quality and taste in the past several years.
I am thrilled to see other cacao players in the area, and I am super excited to see what the future holds for our local cacao industry. The introduction of great chocolate from our local organic farms might just put us on the map as the next big hub for chocolate production, which is sure to bring a lot of income and generate thousands of jobs for Filipinos.
I was also excited to see a lot of booths that offered a full range of packaging products. It is a bit difficult to look for suppliers that can manufacture and print paper bags, coffee flavorlock packaging, and other food-related packaging, and it’s nice to have a one-stop shop for providers of these products, just in case I might need them in the future.
I had a lot of fun walking around and talking to people who are passionate about the products that they are selling. I am glad that Filipino products are shaping up in terms of quality, and they have become more presentable to an international audience. I love what I saw in terms of packaging design, and some of them have really striking marketing collaterals and design for boxes, packs, and bags. I am a stickler for creative and innovative packaging, and I am glad that we are putting more effort in making our products look aesthetically pleasing. Of course, there was a lot of putting things in my mouth as booths naturally would offer samples and even have some of their products on retail.
I came out of the expo laden with stuff. I just about went wild with the chocolate but managed to keep it to a bare minimum (because priorities). I also bought coffee and took home free stuff from other exhibitors.
The highlight of my afternoon was Peter of Babci Kuchnia (who represented Poland in the European Union pavillion) chasing me down the aisle as I was about to walk away to invite me back to his booth so that we could catch up. I met and got to chat with Peter one Sunday morning at the Legazpi Market and he was the one who introduced me to pierogi, which I will talk about in detail in the next post. Long story short, I got to chat with Peter and I walked away with a full grab bag of Babci Kuchnia’s famous pierogi, an umbrella and a pen. What a great guy, Peter.
Were you in IFEX 2017 too? Which booths did you like? BTW Thanks to Raison Arobinto of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Halal Board, for the invitation.