Late afternoon yesterday, I found myself walking in the cavernous exhibition hall of the SMX Convention Center as a visitor at the 2013 International Food Exhibition Philippines. It was an opportunity for local producers to be exposed to the international market. At the same time, it was a chance for other countries to showcase their food products to current and potential Filipino audiences.
The ~9000 sq.m. hall hosted quite a number of booths, with native ingredients from different regions of the Philippines on display. While browsing through the products, I realized that many of the booths were selling organic colored rice, chocolate tablets, coconut products, seafood, cured meats, and coffee products.
I was particularly curious about the rice grains. I haven't heard of many of the trade names... Among the labels I've encountered were Jasmine Gold, Sampaguita Gold, Black Rice, Heirloom Rice, and (the most intriguing name of all, for me) Rambo Rice. Then there were portmanteaus as well: I came across Jasponica and Miponica rice products (Dona Maria brand) in one booth... I regularly buy the Jasponica rice for home use so I've heard of it. In contrast, it's my first encounter with Miponica.
For people wanting to eat food from other countries without leaving the Philippines, the good news is that Filipino products were not the only ones for sale. There were booths that offered items coming from Malaysia (ginger-honey candy), Japan, Korea, and the United States (fried potato cubes). I remember also passing by an exhibit of different grains from Argentina.
There were just so many booths to visit, I didn't notice that I had already spent more than an hour in the SMX Convention Center! In fact, the exhibit was about to close when I reached the chefs' corner. I wasn't able to watch them work their magic on the ingredients available in the hall; I wasn't able to watch the baristas' acrobatics either. Nevertheless, I had a good time exploring the exhibit area.
I just have to thank Ige Ramos, editor-in-chief of sansRival, for telling me about IFEX Philippines.