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Phl ‘Cookie Jar Project’ eyes export opportunity in Australia

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The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry’s overseas trade office in Australia, Philippine Trade and Investment Center – Sydney (PTIC-Sydney), and a group of Philippine food snack companies met virtually last February to discuss market trends, opportunities, and challenges in exporting snack and health food products in the Australian market.  

The discussion aimed to boost and mainstream the country’s exports of biscuits, confectionery, and health food products in Australia and across the Oceania region.  

Australia is a net importer of biscuits with healthy imports growth at an annualized rate of 5.6% from 2021-2022 to total AUD 391.5 million, according to data from IBISWorld.com. Imports account for 28.2% share of the total domestic demand for biscuits in 2021-2022, up from 23.8% in 2016-2017. On the other hand, imports of healthy snack food products into Australia are expected to increase by an annualized rate of 2.4% over the next five years, amounting to USD 182.2 million or 10% of domestic demand.  

In 2021, Philippine exports of biscuits and confectionery products were valued at USD 140.4 million, of which USD 5.39 million were exported to Australia. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Statista report noted that there was a strong demand for core snack products such as potato chips, crackers, tortilla chips and snack nuts, as well as dry food items such as rice, noodles, pasta, and flour. 

Philippine Trade Representative to Australia, Ms. Alma Argayoso highlighted to the companies the opportunities in developing and introducing alternative snacks or niche products particularly those targeting the health-conscious consumers. Based on data from IBISWorld.com, Australia’s healthy snack food industry, valued at AUD 1.8 billion in 2021, has grown over the past five years with on-the-go food segment reporting significant demand.  

Argayoso added that most Australian consumers are willing to pay a premium for healthy products and are anticipated to become more health-conscious due to COVID-19 and rising health concerns such as obesity.  

Mr. Ferdie Chanpongco, one of the convenors of the food clusters, noted that it would be easier to sell snack food products than other product categories because snacks offer convenience. Snack food products are ready-to-eat and can be packed in smaller sizes.  

To kickstart the promotion of Philippine snacks in Australia for the year, Philippine food manufacturers under the Snack Food Cluster, in partnership with PTIC-Sydney and the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), have launched the “Cookie Jar” Project in Australia.  

“Australia is an important and preferred market for Filipino exporters of snack food products. The Philippines is ready to offer healthier snack options that are favoured by Australians especially younger consumers due to our products’ unique taste, flavour and colour.” says DTI-EMB Director Christopher Lawrence S. Arnuco. 

The Cookie Jar Project is a four-month campaign that will include a series of business-to-business (B2B) activities, in-store trade promotion activities, and social media campaign. 

The first batch of B2B activities started on March 15-17, 2022, to be followed by a series of business matching events within the next three months. An in-store promotion of Philippine snack food products is also being eyed in selected Filipino-Asian supermarkets and mainstream retailers. The project will also be complemented with a social media campaign that will promote Philippine snack food brands.  

Major players in the Philippine Snack Food Cluster include Monde Nissin Corporation, Universal Robina Corporation, Monde M.Y. San Corporation, Liwayway Marketing Corporation, Leslie Corporation, Brand Exports Philippines, See’s International Food Manufacturing Corporation, Grand Alphatech International Corporation, Magicmelt Foods, Incorporated, and Weambard International Technology, Inc. These companies have existing relationships with Filipino and Asian importers but would also like to gain access to mainstream retailers. 

The DTI is also assisting new industry players such as Aretei Foods Corporation, B&C Healthy Snack Foods, Inc., C.O.P. Pili Sweets and Pastries, Dealo Koffee Klatch, Golden Arrow Food Enterprises, J. Emmanuel Pastries, Jocker’s Foods Industries, la Carlota, M. Lhuillier Food Products Inc., RPO Fine Foods Corporation, Innovative Packaging Industry Corp., Ritz Food Product Corporation, Sweetworld Inc., and Villa Socorro Farm that have yet to penetrate the Australian market and are actively looking for importers and distributors. 

Meantime, DTI-EMB Assistant Director Jhino Ilano, who leads the bureau’s product group, likewise expressed his appreciation to Australian buyers, especially the Filipino community, who continue to support Filipino products even in the midst of the pandemic, thereby creating a more vibrant Philippine snack food industry.  

Philippine snack food firms said they are optimistic about the prospects in Australia and are looking forward to bringing the country’s well-loved biscuits, confectionery, bakery, dried fruits and nuts, and healthy snack food products for Australian consumers to enjoy. 

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