If you’re thinking about expanding your business and exporting your products to the Philippines, you’re heading in the right direction. The food and beverage industry in the Philippines is buzzing with exciting trends that can help you tap into a growing consumer market. Let’s dive into some of these trends and see how they can benefit your company!

My previous post covered the process of importing food and beverages to the Philippines, which you can find here.

Healthy and Functional Food

As in most of Asia post pandemic, healthy and functional food is all the rage in the Philippines. Although looking at the main street of most towns at the string of fast food outlets, you’d be hard pushed to believe it. There’s one fast food chain after another! Still, trends in the food and beverage industry in the Philippines are not necessarily mainstream everywhere you might go…. People are however becoming more health-conscious and eager to try delicious options that also provide nutritional benefits.

So, if your products offer a healthier twist without sacrificing flavour, you’re definitely onto something. What I saw during my visit in late 2022 (in Manila and bigger cities) were all kinds of trendy cafes popping up who serve salads, smoothie bowls and also some vegan options. Places such as Salad Stop! or Juju Eats are offering healthier options, especially for younger consumers with disposable income.

Superfoods (often also ones which play a fairly traditional role in Filipino food) have also been coming more to the fore, but used perhaps in different ways. I’ve also seen (at least in Manila) a move to cooking traditional foods in a healthier way or with alternative ingredients.

Plant Based Options

Another trend that’s gaining traction is the demand for plant-based options. More and more Filipinos are adopting plant-based diets or looking for vegetarian or vegan alternatives at least some of the time. So, if your company offers plant-based food or beverages, you’ll be catering to a growing demographic and making a positive impact on the environment as well.

The Unilever Food Service report “Future Menus” talks about also upping the importance of vegetables so that they become a main component of dishes. For restaurants this may mean learning how to ensure there’s no compromise on the flavour, but it has the advantage of being cheaper than meat. Their suggestion is also how chefs can make plant based alternatives of familiar favourites for the food and drinks industry in the Philippines. eg Tofu & mushroom sisig.

Drinks, both with and without alcohol

Now, let’s consider the drinks scene. Filipinos love their drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Craft beer, gin, and wine have gained a devoted following among those who appreciate unique flavours. On the other hand, there’s also a rising demand for non-alcoholic options like mocktails and zero-proof drinks. The sober conscious movement has been gaining momentum and with it the popularity and range of alcohol free adult options such as kombucha. If your company produces quality beverages, whether alcoholic or not, there could be a market waiting for you in the Philippines.

Milk Tea

First, let’s talk about the milk tea craze. It truly has taken the Philippines by storm! Milk tea shops are popping up everywhere, and Filipinos of all ages can’t seem to get enough of this refreshing beverage. So, if your company specialises in milk tea or offers products that complement this craze, you’re sure to find a ready market.

In addition to independent local stores, I also saw chains such as Gong Cha, Cha Time or Macao Imperial Tea in every shopping mall or high street. I know I said that Filipinos are looking for healthier options post-Covid but as far as bubble tea is concerned the idea of lower sugar doesn’t seem to be really taking off yet, although it’s available.

Gin

Did you know that the Philippines is the world’s largest gin market? (A staggering 43% of the world’s consumption by volume!)…& gin (at least, the locally produced Ginebra San Miguel) is literally as cheap as chips with a litre costing almost the same as a litre of beer. Traditional flavours (juniper or citrus) are the most popular but Filipinos are also open to new flavours, with many domestic companies as well as overseas Filipinos producing gin. For innovative South East Asian flavours, check out for example Tarsier gin who donate to the Philippines Tarsier Foundation on Bohol (& who can resist a tarsier?).

Whilst competition is tough, there is certainly potential for premium brands to enter into the Philippines market – just don’t expect it to be easy.

Craft Beer

Now Filipinos love to have fun with friends, and that often includes a few beers. Recently though craft beer is on the up & up, with microbreweries popping up all over the place. Brands such as Pedro Brewcrafters or Engkanto are local matadors but there is certainly space on the shelves for some imported brands even though excise on alcohol means that it’s hard to be price competitive.

Wine

Same goes with wine as for craft beer. Whilst it’s expensive to import, interest is growing in wines for the food and beverage industry in the Philippines. I’ve spoke to a number of wine producers recently who have enquiries from the Philippines and the interest and potential certainly seems to be there.

Sustainability is maybe the broadest of these trends in the food and beverage market in the Philippines

Sustainability is also a major focus in the food and beverage industry here. Businesses that prioritise eco-friendly practices and sustainability initiatives are earning the support of environmentally conscious consumers. So, if your company implements sustainable measures, like using biodegradable packaging or sourcing locally, you’ll definitely win the hearts of Filipino consumers.

I want to break this down a bit though as I could probably write a whole new post on this topic for every market out there.

Consumers in the Philippines are certainly becoming more aware of the impact of the food and drinks industry on the environment. That means that there’s an increased focus on:

  • plant based foods (as I mentioned already)
  • Local and regional ingredients
  • alternative protein such as mushrooms, tofu and seitan
  • sustainable packaging that can EASILY be recycled
  • reduced food waste

With more than 7600 islands logistics is a huge part of the carbon footprint of any products and awareness of that (combined with rising prices) is pushing consumer awareness.

On the technical side, that means that there could be opportunities for vertical farming projects, lab grown meat or alternative proteins.

Swicy is the newest portmanteau word in the food and beverage market in the Philippines

Ever heard of “swicy”? It’s the fusion of sweet and spicy flavours that Filipinos absolutely love. This unique taste combination can be found in various dishes and snacks, offering an exciting twist to traditional Filipino cuisine.

One sub trend that is certainly benefitting from this, is the love of Korean cuisine with their blend of spicy and sweet.

This trend lends itself especially well to chicken dishes, hot honey or chilli dark chocolate, but is also being adapted to street food or products such as Mangonada.

If you can infuse your products with the swicy zing, you’ll definitely stand out from the crowd.

New Ingredients are always in vogue

The Philippines is a place where culinary boundaries are constantly being pushed, with new ingredients being embraced or new fusion combinations. Whether it’s exotic fruits such as tamarind being used in different ways, lesser-known herbs, or international flavours, Filipinos love to try new things.

Examples of those might be edible sea plants such as seaweed or nori, but could also be incorporating yuzu into desserts, milk tea or even savoury dishes. Another example would be crispy chicken skin, which is being marketed as a keto, gluten-free snack (it’s also an example of something that might otherwise be discarded, thus also helping to avoid food waste & ticking 2 boxes for our trends list).

So, if your company is all about experimenting with flavours and incorporating new ingredients, you’ll fit right into the dynamic food and beverage scene.

Convenience

Lastly, convenience is key in our fast-paced world. Filipinos are always on the go, and they appreciate food and beverages that offer both taste and convenience. If you can provide on-the-go options that are delicious and easy to consume, you’ll definitely win over busy Filipino consumers.

Delivery APPs such as GrabFood or FoodPanda have gained massive popularity in the last few years, as have any foods that make it easier to eat at home. eg Kelloggs cereals with milk powder included – just need to add water, or easy to use cook in sauces.

trends in the food and beverage industry in the philippines - convenience

How can your company benefit from the latest trends in the food and beverage industry in the Philippines?

In a nutshell, the food and beverage sector in the Philippines is a vibrant and ever-evolving market & Filipinos LOVE to eat! Whether you specialise in healthy food, milk tea, plant-based products, innovative drinks, sustainability, or flavour experimentation, there’s an opportunity for your small company to thrive.

Of course, as in other markets around the world, the Filipinos are not going to be giving up their love of lechon & Jollibee any time soon, but it’s good to know that there are changes taking place that could offer you an opportunity to export. Some of those opportunities may be geographically limited in the beginning to say Metro Manila & Cebu, but those regions still offer good potential.

By staying on top of these trends and tailoring your offerings to the Filipino market, you’ll be well-positioned for success. So, get ready to export your delicious products and reach out for a chat about how I can help you to join the exciting food and beverage scene in the amazing Philippines!

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Kathryn

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1 Comment

  1. “Sometimes, it’s the little rituals that make life special. A cozy evening with a good book and a cup of herbal chamomile tea is my idea of bliss. The gentle floral aroma and the calming effects of chamomile create the perfect ambiance for relaxation.”

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