Government-run food trade show IFEX Philippines 2022 successfully kicked off at the World Trade Center Metro Manila on Thursday, September 22. IFEX Philippines welcomed nearly 6,000 local and foreign buyers and visitors from all over the world during the three-day event, initially generating approximately USD 100 million in export sales and PHP 56 million in domestic sales. These figures are still expected to increase. More than 300 Philippine exhibitors showcased thousands of premium Philippine food products at the event.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, and its Vice-Chairperson Sen. Maria Josefa Imelda “Imee” Marcos, graced the event to support the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) thrust to uplift the country’s food micro, small and medium food enterprises (MSMEs).
Among those who were also present at the opening ceremony were top foreign and Philippine government officials: Undersecretary Ireneo Vizmonte, Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); CITEM Deputy Executive Director Ma. Lourdes Mediran; H.E. Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad Kazi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Commercial Counsellor Serhan Ortaç of the Turkish Embassy; Assistant Director Jhino Ilano of the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB); Executive Director Maria Rita Matute of the Design Center of the Philippines; Executive Director Nelly Nita Dillera of Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC); Mr. Sergio Ortiz-Luis, President and CEO of PHILEXPORT; and Pangasinan 4th District Representative Christopher de Venecia.
Deputy Executive Director Ma. Lourdes D. Mediran of CITEM, the promotions arm of DTI and event organizer, said that IFEX Philippines 2022 is designed to be “a site of reunion and rediscovery” where Philippine food companies and international buyers can reaffirm their partnerships and make new connections. Visitors came primarily from the Philippines, the United States, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Japan, and Australia.
In her recorded keynote speech, Sen. Cynthia Villar highlighted the role of agriculture in uplifting the economy and the efforts being made to assist the sector. According to Villar, supporting the agriculture sector is necessary to ensure flexibility during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We should continue supporting our local produce to ensure our food security and self-sufficiency,” said Villar.
Meanwhile, Usec. Ireneo Vizmonte reiterated DTI’s commitment to the food sector. Vizmonte also acknowledged the global factors that affect the country’s economy, saying these conditions require sustainable and inclusive government response.
Vizmonte said that science, technology, and innovation are essential in building a competitive economy and will be central to the work of DTI under the leadership of Secretary Alfredo Pascual.
“The goal is to grow and develop globally competitive and innovative industries that support inclusive growth and improve environmental sustainability and the quality of life for Filipinos,” said Vizmonte.
According to Vizmonte, one of DTI’s priorities is the digital transformation of MSMEs and the growth and development of startups. Through innovation and digitalization, DTI aims to double its efforts to upgrade and scale MSMEs in order to improve their productivity growth, employment creation, and participation in global value chains.
“The MSME sector is instrumental to the growth of the Philippine economy, accounting for 99% of all businesses in the country. Needless to say, it is of utmost importance that we ensure that entrepreneurs have access to all the resources, platforms, and technologies that they need to grow their businesses,” said Vizmonte.
In addition to supporting the MSMEs, he also said that to promote industrialization, DTI will reconfigure the export industry into three clusters: Industrial, Manufacturing, and Transport; Technology, Media, and Telecommunication; and Health and Life Sciences. Through this strategy, DTI seeks to further build up the country as an exporter of high-value products.
Assistant Secretary Glenn Peñaranda, OIC of DTI’s Trade Promotions Group (TPG), echoed this in his recorded welcome message by highlighting programs that help MSMEs boost their competitiveness in the global market. These programs include capacity-building like the Philippine Trade Training Center’s (PTTC) Global MSME Academy; export assistance programs like RIPPLES; and market access platforms like CITEM’s signature programs and participation in overseas trade fairs.
“The Philippines is one of the most exciting destinations for quality food exports, but with stiff competition from our neighbors, and other drivers such as climate change and health crises, we must continuously adapt and reassert our place in the market,” said Peñaranda.
Celebrating Filipino creativity and innovation in the food sector
Aside from providing an avenue for food MSMEs to showcase their goods, IFEX Philippines also recognized the most innovative products for each product category. CITEM named the winners of the Katha Awards for Food on the opening night of IFEX Philippines.
Katha Awards recognizes exporters that explore new galleries of flavors, original brand ideas, unique food fusions, and creative packaging methods. Through this, Katha Awards aims to strengthen the reputation of the Philippines as a go-to destination for globally competitive Asian food and ingredients.
Sen. Imee Marcos, Vice-Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, and Chairperson of the Committee on Cooperatives, delivered a special message in which she discussed the current problems in the food and agriculture sectors, including import reliance, food shortages, and hunger. She emphasized the importance of supporting the MSME sector to address these issues. Marcos also lauded efforts such as the Katha Awards, which incentivizes businesses to develop new and innovative products for export.
“The truth of the matter is that I truly believe that in the end, all these depressing views in the agricultural and food sector can only be righted by a much more vigorous and vibrant MSME and retail population,” Marcos said.
New Product Category for Beverages
Sol’s Italian Food
Rafael Cococnut Cream
New Product Category for Fine food and specialties
Miguelito’s International Corporation
Instant Puto Bumbong
New Product Category for Marine/Seafood
Fisher Farms Inc.
Gourmet Fillet Sampler Box
New Product Category for Meat & Poultry Products
Gulf Pacific Integrated Exports/Elarz
Corned Lechon Lagablab
New Product Category for Snack Foods & Crisp Savoury Products
Innovative Packaging Industry
OSH Choco Dipped Mango Crisps
New Product Category for Baked Goods & Confectioneries
Theo and Philo
Dark Chocolate Covered Cashew and Honey
Century Pacific Food Inc
Unmeat Luncheon Meat
To learn more about IFEX Philippines, visit IFEXConnect.com.