Saudi market welcomes Dabawenyo products

The announcement came four months after a 14-member DTI-led trade mission from Mindanao went to Saudi Arabia to promote trading between businessmen and investors from both areas.

The DTI, in a press release Thursday, announced two products produced by Davao-based Sagrex Foods, Inc., which received positive response.

"The over-all acceptability of Sagrex's products was very positive. The traders and distributors as well as the OFWs there expressed intense desire for the products to be made available in the market," said Trade Assistant Secretary Merly M. Cruz.

The firm sent samples of its products, the Pinoy fries (frozen banana fries), and microwavable ripe Cardava banana and "turon" (caramel glazed fried banana), to Saudi markets and other clients.

Pinoy Fries is marketed as an alternative to French Fries to 1.4 million OFWs in KSA.

DTI also cited advances made by other Mindanawon firms who sent representatives to the mission.

Another food company, Maharlika Agro-Marine Ventures, the press release said, is set to fly back to KSA in August to finalize transactions with Arab businessmen.

The firm has initiated luring OFWs into investing into its farms, which the latter could monitor using virtual farming technology.

The move was in response to DTI's call for the emergence of overseas Filipino investors (OFIs).

The DTI also cited the Mindanao Pearl Center, which reported sales in the pipeline worth P2.5-million pearl southern bangles with an Arab firm.

"These are actually tangible chances for the Mindanao businessmen to expand their production volume which will result to an increased profit," Cruz said.

The DTI in March reported the mission was successful based on results of initial business matching and negotiations between Arab and Mindanawon firms.

Cruz also revealed that bottled sardines produced by Zamboanga City-based YY Sea International also gained ground.

She said DTI Western Mindanao announced the firm linked with an Arab businessman. The firm already received orders worth P37.9 million, with at least 10-percent down payment.

Cruz said it was the Arab firm who looked for the bottled sardines producer at the International Food Expo (IFEX) last month in Manila.

Cruz said the trade mission has been "constantly raking in tangible results".

The trade mission, spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry – National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center (DTI-NERBAC) Davao, went to several Saudi cities on February 23 to March 5.

Businessmen from Mindanao and DTI officials from Western and Southeastern Mindanao composed the 14-member delegation.

Cruz announced in March at least nine breakthroughs that could improve the balance of trade between the two countries which is estimated this year at US$2.77 billion in favor of the oil-rich kingdom, government and business leaders said in a press conference at The Marco Polo here this week.

Cruz, who headed the mission, said they were able to do it through market matching, investment promotion, market sensing, and business meetings with OFWs.

Among the breakthroughs she cited included the start of the "Magic 25" project encouraging the OFWs to buy at least 25 Saudi Riyals of Philippine-made products every month. She said it would generate an estimated US$112 million of additional exports per year.

The mission was backed by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo), Mindanao Business Council (MBC), and Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, inc. (DCCCII).