Monday, September 29, 2008

7th Filipino Franchise Show

It's my first time to attend the Filipino Franchise Expo. In general, the show was pretty small. The exhibit area only occupied a third of the World Trade Center. It's a combination of food and non-food industries ranging from medium to corporate enterprises. There were about 80 exhibitors to explore for possible business opportunities. In our case, we are particularly interested in the food category. Among the increasingly popular Food Cart segment, the dominant trends are Siomai and Noodles. It seemed that dimsum already found its way to the Filipinos heart and stomach. I saw a lot of companies offering this particular franchise. Apart from that, Noodle Cart is fast becoming a second popular business opportunity. A typical cart houses a concept of stir-fried noodles with your choice of toppings and sauce. Competition dwells mainly on the type of sauce and toppings used. One serving in a small paper cup costs around Php 25 - Php 39. The franchise package ranges from Php125,000 - Php 250,000. Habba Habba, the noodle kiosk from the company that operates Goto King is what I found most interesting. It's noodles with a Pinoy twist. They use habhab noodles, a specialty of Lucban, Quezon. The noodles can be consumed boiled and fried or as-is (ala-crispy noodle type), with seafood sauce and a variety of toppings. Unlike other carts which offer a number of choices for the sauce, Habba Habba uses one type of sauce only. This makes the operation simpler. Taste wise, it's acceptable. The others (Hongkong Noodle House, Fried Noodles etc.), I found too salty and short in character. I think the Habhab Noodles is also a unique selling proposition in itself.

Coffee, Pizza, Rice Bento Box, donut, ice cream and other snack items comprised the whole food franchise repertoire. Your budget, interest and passion are the things that will dictate which franchise is worth exploring.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Progress Gold Milk and its Disturbing Stock Out

Like any other blog, I want Our Taste of Life to elicit a positive appeal to its readers. Whenever possible, I try to have minimal not so good rants around here. Unfortunately, our recent experience with my daughter's milk formula did not prevent me in doing so. My daughter is a loyal patron of Progress Gold, one of Wyeth's premium brands of milk. Incidentally, it is having a massive stock out for almost a month now. This is actually not the first time that we experienced such difficulty in buying this milk product in the market. Being a picky eater, my daughter highly depends on this milk for nourishment and it's unavailability is causing us a lot of distress. She refused to take any milk alternatives because she's so accustomed with the taste of Progress Gold. Having used to taking more than 5 servings a day of this milk and then suddenly not getting any for a day, I simply can't bear the trouble she's going through. Her cries pushed me to send a letter of concern / complaint to Wyeth Philippines.

Dear Wyeth,

I am sending an e-mail to bring to your attention my utter dismay on the current stock out in the market of your milk product - Progress Gold. My 2 year old daughter has been consuming this milk for quite a long time already. She is a picky eater and thus, heavily relies on this particular milk for her nourishment. The unavailability of stocks in the market brought us so much difficulty physically and emotionally. It was way too tiring hopping from one store to the next getting hold of even just a small can of this milk only to find out that there's none. What is even more upsetting and disturbing is the effect it is causing my daughter. I can't bear the trouble my daughter is experiencing for not having the most important food for her, made available. For this reason, I was prompted to raise this concern. It's not the first time that we experience such difficulty looking for stocks of this milk in the market. I was wondering why you can afford such lost opportunities? As a loyal patron of this product, I would like to be enlightened on the reasons of this heavy stock outs. For now, I didn't have any choice but to find an alternative in the market. Otherwise, we'll always be left with worries and stress in buying your product.


Sherra Bernardo

Wyeth quickly responded to my e-mail and here's what they said:

Dear Ms. Bernardo,

Thank you for taking the time to write us. First, we apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you. Rest assured that we are looking into this matter and we'll give you updates on Progress Gold's stock availability as soon as we can. In the meantime, kindly provide us with your complete address and contact details so we can properly address your concern.

Should you have further questions or inquiries, please feel free to call us at our Careline number 81-WYETH (02-81-99384) or our toll-free number 1-800-1088-42222. Our lines are open Monday to Saturday (except holidays) from 8am to 8pm. You could also write us at

Best regards,

Rowena Leus

Careline Specialist

A few hours later upon receipt of their e-mail, I got a phone call from one of their careline representatives to discuss the details of my complaint. Apparently, the major reason for the stock out according to them is the "increase in demand". I can't help but raise my brow for this given reason. Is that so? I am not completely convinced considering that this is not the first time that a heavy stock out of Progress Gold happened. Anyway, I don't want to deal much on Wyeth's grounds for this major problem. As a Product Development Specialist in a Food Manufacturing firm, I know that there are underlying reasons for this. At any rate, they still owe the consuming public a more detailed explanation. What I am particularly after is the message I got from this experience. We recently went to our Pediatrician's clinic in Asian Hospital and I've heard similar concerns from the parents there. So I thought, how many parents went gaga looking for this product in the market? Similarly, how many kids like my daughter suffered a difficult ordeal? Needless to say our choice of product for our kids matters a lot. And so its manufacturer. Putting our trust to them is but an important partnership in raising our kids well. Unfortunately when our partner failed us, we were left with difficult scenarios to deal with. Marketing taglines we usually find for products with kids as primary target market (PTM) talk about trust, reliability, leading the way, etc. It is quite ironic how sometimes they fail to live by these taglines. It's so easy to make claims and add higher value to a product in the market to make it sell more, but in reality, to adhere to it's promise consistently can be at times "fortified" with doubts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Creamy Tuna Farfalle with Baked Tomatoes

I have this pasta recipe sitting in my kitchen recipe bin for quite a while now. I've been wanting to share it with you but time was so hard to pin down again these days. Finally, my fingers found its way to my laptop's keyboard. This is a very simple pasta recipe to prepare. Kids and kids at heart will enjoyably make a mouthful of this creamy pasta dish. To break the satiation factor of its creamy note and to provide a juicy twist, I've added some baked tomatoes. Creamy and juicy that's how this pasta will conquer your palate.
What you need:
250 g farfalle (bow tie pasta), 2 cans of tuna flakes (drained), 275 ml all purpose cream, 1 cup pasta water, 1 med sized red bell pepper (cut into cubes), 1 med sized green bell pepper (cut into cubes), 1 small onion (chopped), 4 cloves garlic (chopped), 3 tbsps olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 3 med sized tomatoes (cut in thin rounds, baked in the oven just until tender)

How to make:
Cook the pasta according to package directions then drain. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add tuna flakes and saute for a minute. Add bell peppers, salt and pepper. Add all purpose cream and pasta water. Boil and simmer until the sauce is thickened. Stir in cooked pasta and serve topped with baked tomatoes.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Asia Food Expo 2008 (AFEX)

It's that time of the year again for the food industry's much awaited Asia Food Expo (AFEX). It's an annual food exhibit held at the World Trade Center, Manila featuring all things related to food. Ingredients, machineries and equipment, food and beverage for end consumers, including product concepts are the usual must see in this food event. However, each year, exhibitors are getting fewer and fewer. It used to be a wealth of industrial food items but more interesting exhibitors tend to decrease in number through time. This is really a big sigh!
More equipments and packaging are featured this year with minimal franchise food items and food ingredients for industrial use. Processed meats, dimsums, doughnuts and coffee products dominated the exhibit hall. Interesting Wines that typically flood the event are nowhere to be found. Generally, it's still a venue for potential food businesses and concepts but content wise, it just filled the food enthusiasts' glass in half.

Mulberry Mixed Juice Drink

When I attended the AFEX 2008, Mulberry Mixed Juice Drink is the most interesting product I found. It's a ready to drink juice with No Artificial Coloring, No Preservatives Added health claims. It's made with natural mulberry juice and fruit concentrate available in two flavors - Apple and Strawberry, with the former being the more acceptable. It basically tastes sweet and refreshing especially when chilled or ice cold. A tannin taste typically perceived from tea is also noted but subtle and mild.
Mulberry tea is making big news around the world. It's recognized as the next big thing in the tea market after the much hyped black, green and white teas. Many food manufacturers and tea growers are claiming that mulberry has higher antioxidant levels than green tea. Furthermore, it contains almost all 18 amino acids essential for our body. True enough, when I looked at the nutrition facts pannel of the juice drink it states 17.3 mg of amino acid content per 100 ml. If you consume the whole drink in 500 ml bottle size, that's an 86.50 mg servings of amino acid!
A ready to drink (RTD) juice with antioxidants to eradicate the free radicals and toxins in our body, a good dose of amino acids for the growth, repair and maintainance of body tissues, a possible aid for lowering blood sugar and body weight, this is a must grab drink for a healthier lifestyle! But just like any new product in the market boasting of great health claims and benefits, it's essential for every consumer to check and validate prior to making a purchase and later becoming a loyal patron of it. I just couldn't over emphasized that it's also a consumer's responsibility to check and probe the validity of the claims and benefits of any food item prior to consumption . It's always better and safer to ask.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What's in the White Hat?

Frozen Yogurt is making a big buzz around town. It is probably the most talked about food trend these days. Because I have heard a lot and perhaps have read enough too, I was intrigued and wanted to try it myself. Frozen yogurt is a typical dessert item similar to ice cream in terms of physical properties only, the fat content is lower. Just like any usual yogurt, it may or may not have the live active cultures. When present, frozen yogurt is regarded as healthier than ice cream. The active cultures aide the digestion of food specifically for the lactose intolerant people thereby making the nutrients readily available for absorption without the discomfort. The nearest store to our place that houses this particular food item is White Hat. So that was where we went and sampled.
White Hat’s Italian Frozen Yogurt comes with great claims; "authentic, all natural, 98% fat-free, definitely guilt free and with live active yogurt cultures". Pretty good product attributes for a dessert item. With a selling proposition of being "so gooood, you can’t get it off your head"! How can you resist from giving it a try? With 21+ toppings to choose from like healthy citrus fruits, tempting sweet goodies such as cookies, chocolates and cheesecake, creating your own yogurt is made more exciting. Priced at Php 85 for a regular size (yogurt only) and Php 115 for the bigger size, this is relatively expensive compared to any ready to eat yogurt you can find in the market shelves. However, making a direct comparison may not be fair considering the "premium" tag attached to the product features of the frozen yogurt. But then again, the price sensitive segment might still have a thought about it. With that, it maybe more of an indulgence rather than a habitual type of food.

Taste wise, it has a distinch sourish after taste typical of yogurt, smooth and creamy mouthfeel even without much fat, milky and light at the same time. I had strawberry-kiwi toppings for my regular size. For this particular combination, I was overwhelmed with the overall sourness. The fruits added more of this note on top of the characteristic sourness that the frozen yogurt already had. That's why, my son's preference was more acceptable. He had strawberry-choco drops. The dark and sweet taste of the choco drops balanced the sour back note of the yogurt. Actually, I find the taste combinations quite tricky and ironic. To maximize the health claims of the frozen yogurt, one (like myself) would prefer fruits and nuts toppings over the sweet and fatty alternatives (e.g. cookies, chocolate, cheesecake etc). On the contrary, some fruits have inherent sourness that might prevent a good balance of taste as opposed to the other options. At any rate, it all depends on preference and taste liking. But still, I would encourage White Hat to create more healthy and tasty choices of toppings to push the acceptability and premium profile of the frozen yogurt further. More so, the maturity index of the fruits being used must be properly looked into.Other things notable about White Hat are image and packaging. The name itself simply states the product expectation. Talking about the presentation, it's visually appealing and innovative. The "customer picture taking" promo is also a catchy marketing tool. Overall, White Hat's Italian Frozen Yogurt is a gem among the many food finds at the SM Mall of Asia. Repeat trials or more frequent consumption of it will depend on the general liking, location and price.