A tropical country, the Philippines is teeming with natural resources from fruits to herbs and vegetables. One of their many uses is as ingredients to some of our country’s unique local snacks.
Our local snacks are delicious and easy to carry, making them ideal souvenir items for overseas Filipino workers and emigrants who miss the country, and for tourists who want to bring with them a taste of the Philippines. But more than being souvenir items, the Philippines’ local snacks are a testament to the Filipinos’ ingenuity, which has paved the way for many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to earn and provide a living. Kultura and SM are proud partners of these MSMEs.
Gateway from the Philippines to the world
Healthy Tropics, Michelle’s Homemade and Cebu Best Mango are among the top brands offering local snacks. Healthy Tropics churns out teas and juices from malunggay, guyabano, mangosteen and other herbs. Its take on the classic shing-a-ling also infuses malunggay to the crispy snack. Michelle’s Homemade, on the other hand, had its start with the puto ube before diversifying into other pasalubong items including their best-selling banana chips. Now, their banana chips come in different variants: the regular, the thinly sliced and banana chips covered in chocolate. Cebu Best Mango is an institution when it comes to dried mangoes. While it takes pride in its family heritage recipe, it continues to innovate its offerings.
These snacks and drinks are a product of a determined vision, painstaking years of research and development, and because they are made from natural ingredients, they are the result of a symbiotic relationship between the entrepreneurs and the communities—especially the farmers—they work with.
“When you have a farm, you create job opportunities. Whether you’re buying from the farmer or establishing your farm, it generates employment,” says Mike Atayde, CEO of Healthy Tropics.
“Supporting Filipino farmers and the local agriculture industry is an important part of our business,” shares Vincent Ong, Manager at Cebu Best Mango.
Aside from their ties with communities, these brands also form a partnership with Kultura, which serves as these products’ gateway from the Philippines to the rest of the world.
“Kultura helped us improve our products, and paved the way for us to bring our products closer to more people especially the balikbayans,” Michelle Concepcion-Reyes, President of Michelle’s Homemade, says.
Getting through the pandemic together
Like many souvenir items, these products are reliant to sales from their tourist buyers. But because of the pandemic and its impact to tourism, these enterprises are facing challenges. Despite these ordeals, these brands are thinking of ways to adapt to the new normal.
“We’re using this time to beef up our facilities and explore new products to introduce to the market,” Vincent reveals.
“It doesn’t mean that business has to stop. You just have to find ways to keep your brand and your products relevant and interesting,” Mike says. Both Healthy Tropics and Michelle’s Homemade are boosting their presence online to continue reaching their customers.
Aside from continuing with their business, these brands are also making sure to take care of their people amid the pandemic. Knowing that many individuals and communities rely on them for their livelihood is an added inspiration for these enterprises to keep forging on.
“We see that we have employees who really love their jobs. We try our best for the team to maintain their jobs; we do not want to lose our people,” Michelle says.
While it has also had its share of challenges, Kultura is exploring methods to be of assistance to these brands in getting through this pandemic together by providing them an avenue to sell, tapping new markets with its online store, and curating their products, allowing consumers to relive the experience of traveling around the Philippines just by visiting their stores.
“Having trusted partners with strong e-commerce platforms and logistics partners like Kultura and SM makes it easier for us to continue with our existing structure,” Vincent shares.
Kultura and SM believe that now, more than ever, it is important for us to support local enterprises, as it also means support for the workers and communities behind their products and services.
Healthy Tropics, Michelle’s Homemade, Cebu Best Mango and other uniquely Filipino snacks and items are available in Kultura located in SM malls and at www.kulturafilipino.com.
For more than 60 years, SM, and its affiliate brands like Kultura, has been home to thousands of MSMEs. As SM grew, so did its MSME partners. From those years of partnership, SM and MSMEs once again stand together to build back stronger.
For more stories about SM’s journey with its MSME partners, visit Kasama ng SM.