Posted on: September 5, 2009 at 8:40PM
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The Philippines is filled with food treasures yet to be found. Lanao del Norte, a small province in Northern Mindanao for one, has been conquering the global palate for its suka pinakurat or spicy coco vinegar. “What is good about pinakurat is its exotic taste coming from natural ingredients,” shared Peppo Stuart Del Rosario one of the siblings who manages the local company, Green Gold Gourmet Food Products. Coco Vinegar is a staple condiment in Philippine households yet through innovation the company was able to add value to this popular Filipino sawsawan (dipping sauce). The company developed the old-fashioned vinegar into a distinct line of gourmet vinegar.
During the childhood of the Del Rosario siblings, the vinegar concoction of their father was only used as a home flavoring. It was only later when the family decided to venture into a coco vinegar business. Nine years in the trade and still flourishing, the intense spice of their pinakurat and other flavors was used not only as a condiment but also as salad dressing.
Green Gold Gourmet coco vinegar can also be enjoyed in other variants such as waykurat or sweetened coco vinegar and kuratsoy or pinakurat with soy sauce.
When asked about what sets pinakurat apart from other coco vinegar manufacturers the Del Rosario kin simply explained that the special process of fermentation and the blending of the right amount of ingredients used are what spell the difference. “Plus it is made by the golden hands of people in Iligan and Lanao,” he added.
This year, palatable gastronomic delights unique to the country were showcased in the International Food Exhibition Philippines. Through the show, CN Trading, a company connected with the Island Pacific Supermarket chain in West Coast California thought of importing the product.
Another local company, Manga Miyamaratiyaya Ki Isa, Inc. (MMKI) from Iligan City, is a church foundation that aims to provide livelihood to the Maranao, Cebuano and Higaonon farmers of Digkilaan, Iligan City. The farmers grow their raw products without the use of fertilizers. MMKI only uses pure dried leaves of herbal plants like lagundi or five-leaved chaste tree, tanglad or lemongrass, ampalaya or bitter melon, malunggay and many others, thus living up to its name of providing perfectly natural herbs and healthy teas in the Philippines.
MMKI’s herbal teas and capsules were made without the use of inorganic chemicals and additives therefore ensuring quality food supplements. During IFEX Philippines, Romy Ramos of Milagrosa Foods and Grains Company Ltd, distributor of Filipino food and products in the UK placed big orders of both pinakurat and MMKI, and was particularly interested on MMKI’s herbs that are organically grown in the mountains or hills of Digkilaan, Iligan City.
Green Gold Gourmet and MMKI are just two of the food companies featured under the IFEX Philippines Partner Region Program. PRP is an initiative of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions that aims to assist micro, small and medium food enterprises from the different regions of the Philippines in food packaging, systems development and product promotion under the IFEX banner. This years partner region is Northern Mindanao.
Under the program, Northern Mindanao generated $ 2.3M worth of export sales from local and overseas buyers such as United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Middle East and Australia.
Other luscious offerings from Lanao del Norte that captured the local taste were Cherry Michelle’s soft to the bite silvanas pastries and healthy sterilized milk from Lanao Foundation Inc.
For more information on IFEX Philippines, visit www.ifexphilippines.com