Through their participation in Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Sikat Pinoy fairs, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the various regions of the country are exposed to superior product standards to make them more competitive in the local and, eventually, the world market.

“Aside from exposing SMEs to national buyers or large companies to get big orders, we expose them to the products of the other enterprises,” said DTI Secretary Gregory L. Domingo in an interview during DTI’s recent Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair.

Domingo said that this is to the extent that SMEs are able to see better packaging and product quality, and be exposed to higher standards. He called this process as cross-pollination of ideas and execution.

With the theme “Piling-piling pagkaing Pilipino”, the National Food Fair showcases food products of 150 exhibitors. Products include meat, fish and marine products; processed fruits and vegetables; ingredients, sauces, and condiments; wines and beverages; coffee, tea, and cocoa; bakery products; snacks and confectionaries; organic, herbal and natural products; and food supplements and vitamins.

Domingo also said that DTI is conducting this fair to promote the SME and to showcase the best of what Philippines has to offer in terms of native food products and delicacies from all over the country.

He added that some of the participants are already ready to export and can benefit from the European Union’s (EU) recent grant of new Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme or GSP+ status to the Philippines with zero duty on their products.

He noted that if they export to the European Union (EU), they must pass the labelling requirements and product standards for food.

Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (BDTP) Director Rhodora Leaño also said that for this year, BDTP was a little stricter on the exhibitors that participated in the fair since they are currently working on special projects with big institutional buyers and supermarkets.

“One of the basic requirements that they are seeking from suppliers is the fact that they must have a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registration. They can be appeased if the supplier has at least filed an application with FDA,” said Leaño.

Leaño also noted that the fair exhibitors are ready to supply big institutional buyers, and are there not only for retail sales but also for bulk transactions.

She added that FDA came up with new guidelines, and is becoming more considerate in handling the application of SMEs.

“In this age of globalization, there is no way to go but follow a given criteria. If you do not follow, your chances of actually growing become almost nil,” Leaño said.

Leaño also mentioned that BDTP together with DTI’s regional offices are sponsoring product development assistance to SMEs and hopes to see its output in the succeeding trade fairs that DTI will mount. (END)