Taipei International Food Show (Part 2 of 4; The Taipei Experience)

Taipei being an industrialized city is fast becoming a favorite host to International Trade Fairs. One of the most popular and largely attended by locals is the one held last Nov 23 - 26, 2007 at the World Trade Center. The 4-day Food Event was divided into three categories: 1) Taiwan International Chain Stores Fair, 2) Taipei Tea, Coffee & Wine Expo and 3) Taiwan International Food & Equipment Show. The Food Show presented the vastness and richness of the competitive Taiwan Market. As exemplified by the massive groups of consumers that flocked the event, Food is indeed one of Taiwanese's most prolific industries. Consequently, the event did not fail its local consumers with the enormous food choices and experiences it offered. But for foreigners like us, there are really not much to appreciate (or perhaps it just didn't meet some of our objectives for visiting the fair). Generally, it's all about imported goods intended for the end-consumers of Taiwan. What's more, languange is a limitation since very few can understand and speak english. Essentially though, a peek of what's inside the Taiwan Food Market is still an inspiring know-what and know-how.

The Taiwan International Chain Stores for instance, showcased the emerging players in the segment but not limited to foods alone. However, still the apparent giants are 7-eleven and McDonalds.

Health and wellness is the name of the competition. A lot of products promoting health and vitality are very visible and popular. Replenish.., refresh.., restore.., re-young! These are becoming the mantra in this country.

In the Tea, Coffee and Wine Hall, you will feast on the delightful taste and aroma of warming beverages. Most Teas present in the trade fair were produced in Taiwan, Japan and China. Coffee products on the other hand, were made from Europe (Italy, Germany), America(Columbia, Honduras, etc.) and Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia). Green Tea is largely seen as more popular than Black or Oolong Tea. By the way, Tea here is elevated into a higher level. Promoting it doesn't stop from merely providing an appealing taste and aroma. From the finest tea cups to the right choice of concoctions, everything must be delicately taken cared of. From a visitor's point of view, it's like being transported to a homey tea house with the ambiance of natural tea landscapes. It's having a "complete tea experience" that exhibitors are trying to communicate. It is a culture that is worthy to share. Suffice it to say, most tea products came in natural, dried leaves form. Instant, powdered type is hardly visible. Likewise, it's more for end-user consumption rather than for further commercial processing. On Coffee trends, increasingly being well liked is the one with "no raw sugar" claim (2 in 1). Taste is strong and bold. It's under the brand name CAFE 21 made in Malaysia.

Among the few that offered commercial tea products for instant consumption is the KING KUNG HEALTH FOOD CO., LTD. They claim to have nutritional at the same time good tasting tea drinks. Some of the products we sampled which we found true to their claims were smoked plum soup, brown rice tea, ginger tea, burdock tea, taro coconut milk, maple syrup milk tea and ten grain nutritional tea.

Other products we also found promising when made available in an up and coming health and wellness driven market like the Philippines, are these Herbal Crackers and Vital Balance Biscuits. We noticed their high acceptability among Taiwanese. It only proved then that taste and health can complement each other in a finished product.

It's also interesting to find a drink that is made to be consumed at a "specified" time. Don't you find this 3:15 PM Milk Tea very intriguing (photo above)? I wonder what's in the 3:15 PM that you'll feel the need for a cup of milk tea? To ease some accumulated stress perhaps? At any rate, what is important to note is that products are becoming very specific and tailored-fit nowadays. Food manufacturers are getting into the "lifestyle" of the consumers and providing solutions to their needs.

Generally, the notable food items in Taiwan International Food and Equipment show are dried fruits (like plum and berries), dried seaweeds (which Taiwanese normally use as side dish in every meal occasion), dried shrimps, herbal teas for cooking, dimsum products, ice cream with innovative flavors (e.g. tiramisu), biscuits and bakery products, chocolate and confectioneries and some food cart favorites (such as fried corn on the cob, fried dumplings, etc.). Food processing equipment on the other hand, is largely on coffee and tea making, fruit extracts making and dimsum manufacturing. All in all, it was a visit worth of interesting Taiwanese food trends. Taiwan left a legitimate mark of being that Asian Neighbor who owns a booming vessel of consumer goods. A country of foodies willing to spend more for good food. Thus, Food is a money-spinning business to penetrate here. The considerable number of exhibitors in the trade show is a good proof of this claim. By and large, it's for the same reason that competition among manufacturers is getting more and more stiff and challenging.


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