We adopted stricter quality control, joined national and international trade fairs, and adopted an open-kitchen policy to show customers how the pies are made under impeccable conditions.
As a food manufacturer, we had to comply with requirements of the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD). We put up plastic screens to keep rodents and insects out and laid out new tiles to facilitate cleaning and hasten the work flow.
Our export marketing venture required improving our buko pie recipes in terms of quality and shelf-life. The pies used to be quite perishable, with a shelf life of three days without refrigeration and one month frozen. After we researched on the technology, the pies can now keep for a week in room temperature and up to one year — when subjected to rapid blasts of cold air, frozen for two hours, and then vacuum-packed.
We also tapped sources of assistance in government.
After attending a number of packaging seminars, we tapped the Packaging Research and Development Center (PRDC) to improve our packaging. Now we have boxes that are more attractive, thicker and have protective lining.
Next we sought the help of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) office in Region 4 for financing to buy new equipment that would hasten expansion. The loan enabled our company to acquire a blast freezer, large-capacity ovens, and heavy duty mixers. The ovens now bake 50 pies an hour while the mixer produces 24 pies in five minutes.
Through the Center for International Trade Exhibitions and Missions (CITEM) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), we actively participated in national and international trade fairs and exhibits, such as the Mindanao Trade Expo, the Asian Ethnic Food Festival, and the Philippine food Expo. The exposure boosted our export sales of frozen pies.
Today, we tend to believe, there is room for more players in the buko pie making industry – the serious players, not the hit-and-run type. The market for buko pie here and abroad is potentially very large, and we may never be able to supply its demand no matter how hard we try.
Isagani and Lety Belarmino
Lety’s Buko Pie
Los Banos, Laguna