"Our high-quality food products reflect the creativity of our manufacturers in riding current market trends and showcases our capability to develop products for the differentiated needs of consumers. We consider it an edge that our products have interesting stories to tell," said Rosvi C. Gaetos, Executive Director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and organizer of the Philippine participation.
FOODEX Japan is Japan's top food and beverage trade show, expecting approximately 2,400 exhibitors from over 60 countries and drawing around 85,000 visitors over a four-day period each year.
"Japan is one of the strongest, resilient economies in the world. The current growth of Fair Trade awareness in Japan provides us a good opportunity to increase market access for our fairly traded products and generate better income and meaningful changes for our farmers and women community partners," said Geraldine M. Labradores, Managing Director of the Cebu-based Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center, Inc. (SPFTC).
Exhibiting Fair Trade dried fruits; naturally processed coconut products; Robusta, Arabica, and Civet coffee; and black organic rice, SPFTC has engaged in Fair Trade and has been the processing and trading facility of farmer community organizations in Visayas and Northern Mindanao since 1996. It is also involved in post-harvest technology and development, product research and development, farm development and organic production, and the institutional development of farmers and women communities.
Fair Trade is a trading partnership that champions marginalized groups by offering them greater equity in international trade. According to the Rimisp-Latin American Center for Rural Development, the global Fair Trade market has grown by over 20 percent annually since 2000 and is said to be moving more into mainstream distribution channels as it gains recognition as a social sustainability tool.
Labradores said that SPFTC advocates the basic tenets of Fair Trade in processing and marketing by paying the just price for a producer’s farm products and minimum wage for the production workers, as well as acting as a direct link between the producers and consumers.
She added that they consider the Fair Trade organizations in Europe, Japan and Hongkong as their main market niche.
Their products are currently sold through their Fair Trade Shop in Cebu that also serves as the Advocacy Center of the Cebu Fair Trade Network, an organization that seeks to raise awareness of Fair Trade.
"We not only showcase our own products in the Shop but also ones made by Fair Trade groups and community association partners from other parts of the Philippines. These include naturally grown herbal teas, organic rice, ginger product lines, muscovado sugar, and eco-friendly items from recycled materials," said Labradores. "We believe the Japanese market has a strong appreciation for natural, no preservative, health and wellness food products and we want to highlight this as a strength of [our movement]."
To date, SPFTC has partnered with 24 mango and coconut farmer community organizations in Cebu, 8 of which have embarked in natural farming systems in a bid for organic certification;
Soyuz Foods International, Inc., another new Philippine participant in FOODEX Japan, is exhibiting its line of calamansi products - in particular the Manzy Calamansi Extract made from 100 percent pure and natural calamansi.
"We want to introduce calamansi to the Japanese mainstream market not only as a unique refreshing beverage but also as a flavoring and a delightful ingredient to culinary dishes. Manzy Calamansi Extract suits the Japanese palate because of its invigorating and very tangy taste, like an exotic cross between a tangerine and a lemon," said Helena del Rosario, General Manager of Soyuz Foods.
Calamansi is a native Philippine plant hailed for its many uses. As a local culinary staple, it is used for juices, concentrates, purees, marmalades, jams, and jellies. Rich in Vitamin C and minerals, it is known to promote hair growth, alleviate fever and sooth insect bites, among others. It is also an effective fabric stain remover, skin whitener and soap and detergent ingredient.
"We want to export our native calamansi... [and for this], we have forged partnerships with farmer groups and entrepreneurs through sustainable development initiatives in order to improve farmer living conditions and minimize poverty in the sector," said del Rosario.
In 2006, Soyuz Foods was formed following a collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) - Industrial Technology Development Institute in identifying processes and packaging solutions for exporting the calamansi. This resulted in a product with a guaranteed shelf life of at least one year at room temperature, with no additives or preservatives and requiring no refrigeration.
"Manzy Calamansi Extract is a product of long research and development that qualifies it to meet the strict and discriminating standards of the Japanese market. From this process, the natural bitterness and tart aftertaste of calamansi was removed and its shelf life extended. We plan to do similar research in the future and expand our portfolio of Philippine fruit purees and extracts," said del Rosario.
Other first time Philippine participants in FOODEX Japan are: Andy Albao Enterprise/Cocowonder (coconut products including coconut chocolate bar, coconut amino sauce and coconut amino seasoning); KLT Fruits, Inc. (tropical fruit purees); M. Lhuillier Food Products, Inc. (dried fruits); Mofels Food International, Inc. (processed meat products, frozen fruits, vegetaries); Province of Negros Occidental (certified organic food); and Spythe Global Enterprises (coconut sap products).
The Philippine participation in FOODEX Japan 2012 is a joint project of CITEM and the Department of Agriculture-
The participation also promotes the 9th edition of the CITEM-led IFEX Philippines:
For more information on the Philippine participation, visit www.ifexphilippines.com/
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The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is an export promotions arm of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry.