Thursday, March 31, 2011

MS Tubongbanua's yellow ketchup colors 10th Philippine Food Expo

Moniela G. Dela Cruz

In the 10th Philippine Food Expo held February 24 to 27, 2011 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City,the processed mango products of Rebecca Tubongbanua, Magsasaka Siyentista of the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC), was among the six commodities featured at the booth of Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development’s (PCARRD) booth.

PHILFOODEX is the biggest umbrella organization of food manufacturers and exporters while the exposition is the only all-Filipino consumer event in the country.

The other 5 commodities on display from PCARRD’s other member-consortia were strawberry products form Benguet, canned chevon (goat meat) from Cagayan Valley, muscovado sugar and coconut-based condiments from Davao, and Pili oil from the Bicol region.

The mango ketchup and mango sauce drew feedback from the guests, ranging from astonishment that “yellow” ketchup and sauce do exist in the market and that it actually tastes good, to praise for Ms. Tubongbanua for coming up with and pursuing such an idea.

MS Tubongbanua said that her products are proofs of her concern for the mango growers and farmers in Guimaras, whose “blemish-free” mangoes only were being purchased by traders and exporters and that those with slight defects have no market, resulting in low revenues. Such concern for farmers led her to develop what is now the McNester's array of mango-based processed products.

On the first day of the exhibit, Tubongbanua cooked her concoction of a pasta meal in mango sauce and chicken, combining her product with darag native chicken, another focus commodity of WESVARRDEC, and with the pili oil of the Bicol Consortium for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development (BCARRD).

Guests and exhibitors were invited to sample the dish, which was consumed in no time. On the second day, MS Tubongbanua prepared pizza with mango sauce and ham, along with BCARRD’s vegetable salad with pili oil and mango sauce as dressing were eagerly awaited by samplers. Such was the success of the products that on the 3rd day, with the mango ketchup serving as dips for crackers and chips, all the remaining sauce and ketchup bottles were sold out.

On the fourth and last day, to create more awareness for the “yellow” sauce, a tuna spaghetti was served for the excited suki and the newcomers. While Ms. Tubongbanua prepared for her various dishes, the curious crowd of housewives, students, and exporters, grilled her with questions about her recipe, her product outlets and her packaging.

Unfortunately for the Luzon consumers, Tubongbanua said at the moment, her products are distributed in Iloilo and Guimaras only. According to her, the Philippine Food Expo is only one avenue given by PCARRD to promote her products to a wider local and global market.

True enough, there were several prospects and opportunities that came her way, one of which was when a lady purchased 10 bottles of mango sauce to bring to Hong Kong as samples and another was a possibility to display her products at the SM Makati weekend market, through the assistance of PCARRD and PHILFOODEX.

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