Filipino exporters of food products and housewares and furnishings are encouraged to seize the potential of Germany and France, major markets in Europe, even amid the pandemic.
Benedict Uy, Commercial Counsellor at Philippine Trade and Investment Center Brussels, said food products offer business opportunities, noting particularly mainstream in the new applications of coconut, dried fruits, and Philippine cacao and coffee.
Uy cited as an example coconut milk that can be used as a milk alternative for coffee, while some chocolate makers in these markets use Philippine cacao beans.
He said the green appeal, healthy snacking, and customization also continue.
“Everybody wants to customize something, even their food, and then the use of superfoods so highly nutritional ingredients like moringa, turmeric, cinnamon and all those things are also very important and sought-after,” he added. “Everybody is now into superfoods so food ingredients that will cater to that requirement is also an opportunity.”
Uy underscored the need for exporters to find niche markets, such as making available to online stores calamansi, organic products, and pili.
“It depends on what kind of product you produce, is it for the ethnic market, is it for food ingredients or is it for a niche or premium market? For example, you are looking at producing products that are for niche and premium markets then, your target would be retailers and specialized stores and then the distribution network will be the importers and retailers,” he said.
Uy said exporters have to also look at “developmental” in the next few years.
“Maybe we can already do our homework and look at who are the buyers and who are the importers to supply this one and start building relationships,” he said.
Uy further cited top trends at SIAL Paris for 2022, the most renowned food trade fair in France.
“(There are) talks about that alcoholic beverages would still be in demand. Now, maybe, smaller bottles because people are drinking alone at their own house, and (also) healthier sugar so coconut sugar perhaps,” he added.
Meanwhile, Uy said local firms intending to market their own home decor and furnishing brands in the European Union (EU) may supply other EU boutique brands, especially retailers, in limited quantities.
“Now, with ecommerce really blossoming and taking over a lot of traditional shops here, there is a new ballgame so you have to study that as well. For example, if you have private brands that you want to promote of course, the best outlet for that will be showrooms and boutique shops and institutional markets,” he added.
In terms of trends for furnishing and home decor products, Uy said exporters need to plan ahead as there are new trends in the housing sector.
“Here in Europe, the policy is really going green and sustainability so materials use should have that story as well. And then, it should be purposeful in design, it’s not only just design for art sake but really functional. And this is very important in times of Covid (coronavirus disease 2019) and after Covid, we have to do a combination of functional design,” he said.
Uy further said cocooning, work from home, and greening are other trends amid the pandemic.
“The use of materials like recycled materials, upcycling rattan and bamboo still in, and then a mix of leather and wood is still in. And then in terms of techniques, they want handmade, woven, braided so that’s also the trend that we notice. Of course, the season still matters. We are in a four season continent,” he said.
“Here in Europe, we also have a lot of plantitas and plantitos. You cannot export plants but the pots, the hanger, the shelves and all those things that accessorize it is something that you can also look into,” he added.