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Calabarzon area

Calabarzon trade mission finds, affirms US export opportunities

Calabarzon area
Calabarzon area

CALAMBA CITY, Philippines – A Calabarzon delegation that conducted a trade and study mission to California, USA, on August 7-15 this year affirmed that export opportunities for small and medium-scale enterprises (SME) abound in the US West Coast.

The mission delegation is composed of entrepreneurs and representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

The primary purpose of the trip is to test the USA as a potential market for the Calabarzon products.

DTI Regional Director Marilou Quinco-Toledo said that the best way to determine is to test-sell products of small and medium enterprises to the Filipino-Americans at the Pistahan sa Yerba Buena Gardens at Howard Street in downtown San Francisco and consequently get reactions about the products.

The trade fair coincides with the 21st Annual Pistahan Festival, an event organized by the Filipino American Arts Exposition that drew over 60,000 people daily

Choco Vron Global Corporation, Ai-She Footwear, Silver Handicrafts, DVAS Enterprises, – Violeta Saligumba, Makiling Organics, Zenaida Corcuera Food Products, Jhaz Footwear, Escaba Food Poducts, La Carlota Foods, Oryspa Spa Soliutions, and Amarich Marketing International presented products at the ‘Pistahan sa Yerba Buea’.

Products include food items (coffee, banana chips), health and wellness preparations (turmeric, lemongrass tea) as well as fashion accessories, footwear, and rice bran-based beauty products.

The business matching events were held at the Philippine Center Lobby in the downtown area of San Francisco .

Due to some reasons, most of the exhibitors’ products did not arrive in time for the fair, thus, only those hand-carried items were sold, yet sales including booked orders amounted to USD 17,262”, according to the report.

DTI’s role was to assist the entrepreneurs test the saleability of their products in the US market via participation to trade and selling fairs.

Aside from Director Toledo and DTI Laguna’s Senior Trade Promotions Officer Laura E. Jaraplasan, Philippine Trade Representative to Los Angeles Jose Ma. Dinsay assisted the delegation.

Business matching, product development

Through the arrangements made by Philippine Trade and Investments Center , the delegation was able to engage in business meetings and business matching events with US firms thus gaining insights on how to market to the USA and were updated with the latest trends on the handicraft, fashion and food sectors.

The Calabarzon entrepreneurs were able to link with a network of distributors in California; have experienced and discerned the difference between Oriental stores and the US mainstream markets; and for the DTI people, grab the benefits of the experience that would further enhance their capability to assist entrepreneurs.

Jaraplasan said that the selling fair and the business matching encounters were very important opportunities that enabled the delegation to meet prospect buyers to promote products on a face- to-face basis.

“The business matching event held at the lobby of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center and attended by four wholesalers/distributors prompted the negotiation between Pinex Trading-USA and Makiling Organics to supply 100 cases of turmeric tea per month,” Jaraplasan said.

There was also a marketing and packaging seminar attended by the delegation thatprovided a chain of knowledge on the basics of exporting to the US .

One more thing we learned is the buying habits and capacity of consumers visiting Pistahan Fair, which also serves as a recreational and entertainment arena forFilipinos visiting in the West Coast,” said one member of the delegation.

Director Toledo said the products of the companies in this batch of participants are ready for the US market as they have passed the standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).

Benchmarking visits

Through visits to the factories, the delegation saw manufacturing processes that employs combined manual and mechanized work force, as well as familiarize with best or different practices particularly green economic development principles adopted by some US firms.

Market intelligence

The delegation also visited supermarkets and other retail stores such as Trader’s Joe, Wall Mart, Costco including the Tambuli Oriental stores to assess on the market potentials of Calabarzon products.

The delegation found out that virgin coconut oil is available at the mainstream supermarkets while at the Oriental stores only a few products from Calabarzon were found.

 We know now the processes on how to export to the US-based distributors, the requirements of the USFDA for food and beauty products, requirements of cargo forwarders, custom duties, tariffs, and other forms of taxes”, Toledo said.

The delegation sought for more opportunities through product presentations with five(5) US wholesalers/distributors which resulted to the following general agreements:Calabarzon manufacturers will use the brands of US-based firms; compliance to regulations on the use of food coloring media, and the willingness of Pinex Trading-USA to buy all the shipments made by the CALABARZON group; and MBC American Business Consultants’ interest in teas.

The DTI Regional Director is confident that, indeed, there is a market for Filipino products particularly those from the small and medium enterprises in Calabarzon.

Our products have easily captured the interest of the wholesalersThere is a big potential for SME products in the US as the qualities of these products are high so we can compete with other US-exporting countries. We are satisfied with the results so far thus we plan to be back in the Pistahan next year,” Toledo concluded.

The delegation is composed of Joel and Marissa Lourdes Yala (Choco Vron Global Corporation), Chelsea Aira Coligado (Ai-She Footwear), Ricarose Anne Nepomuceno (Silver Handicrafts), Violeta Saligumba (DVAS Enterprises), Clarke S. Nebrao (Makiling Organics), Maria Leila Corcuera (Zenaida Corcuera Food Products), Elvira Moneda (Jhaz Footwear), Perla Escaba (Escaba Food Products); Emmanuel Cauntay (La Carlota Foods); Sheril Quintana, Oryspa Spa Solutions); and  Amabel Frias (Amarich Marketing International).

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.