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Barrio Fiesta finds hope in ‘new normal’

A truly Filipino brand, Barrio Fiesta expands its market presence amid the pandemic as it explores new ways of getting its products to consumers.

Barrio Fiesta finds hope in ‘new normal’
Prime Global Corp. executives led by president and COO Vincent Ace Villa-Real (center) are optimistic about expansion.
Barrio Fiesta, the condiment label popular to most Filipinos families, continues to carve milestones for parent company Prime Global Corp., by diversifying product portfolio from the top-selling shrimp paste to new sauces, spreads, dry mixes and snacks. 

PGC said it found “new hope” in the “new normal” as many Filipino families turned to good old home cooking from the start of the lockdown and even through various stages of quarantine, heightening the demand for Filipino-style seasoning and sauces.

While the virtual world is not new to the company, its increased presence through information technology boosted company sales in the time of crisis. Selling on virtual platform helped keep the business stable, according to PGC.

“The Barrio Fiesta retail brand is one of the few remaining Filipino heritage brands whose equity can cut across the broad spectrum of the culinary and food industries. We intend to make the most of the equity. We can’t be a single product company; category expansion whether organic or thru external synergies is a given,” said PGC president and chief operating officer Vincent Ace Villa-Real.

Barrio Fiesta remains the dominant brand with 65-percent market share of the local sautéed shrimp paste category and 95 percent of the international market in 2019.

The manufacturing business of Barrio Fiesta sautéed shrimp paste was acquired by the Ang-Hortaleza Corp. through a subsidiary in 2011. The brand is now under PGC, a manufacturing, marketing and distribution subsidiary.

Before the COVID-19 struck, the company released its own version of everyday condiments and snacks—the Barrio Fiesta Gourmet Series Patis (fish sauce), Barrio Fiesta Tubasuk (spiced sugar canevinegar), Barrio Fiesta Crispy Joy Breading Mix, Barrio Fiesta Peanut Butter Spreads, Barrio Fiesta Chicken and Beef Broth Cubes and Barrio Fiesta Jumbo Roasted Peanuts

“We are optimistic because Barrio Fiesta is a very strong retail brand offering products with superior taste, quality and value supported by a vision and a business model that is anchored on strong fundamentals,” Villa-Real said.

The company found new growth opportunities for the packaged food category as people continue to stay at home, afraid to risk going out lest they might get in contact with the COVID-19 virus.

PGC noticed that many households opted for home-cooked meals, seeing the rise of ‘home chefs. It anticipated that the ‘new normal’ would continue to bring about more interest, creativity and enthusiasm for “lutong-bahay” recipes.

Through social media pages, Barrio Fiesta provides Filipino cooks lutong-bahay recipes and tips, noting the many are shifting their budgets to home-cooked meals while small entrepreneurs have gone into the online food business in place of lost livelihood. 

While on-ground activities have been cancelled, current digital content efforts have been geared towards engaging online audience with useful recipes and tips using Barrio Fiesta product,

The company recently opened its Facebook page to online bulk orders for those who would be interested to resell Barrio Fiesta products within their community.

PGC also shifted to digital marketing, seeing greater spending on online promotional ventures as the pandemic continues. 

It maintains its presence in physical stores—its primary trade channel—to cater to Filipinos who still opt to shop outside. Barrio Fiesta products are still sold in supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, drug stores and sari-sari-stores.

Because of the pandemic, PGC acknowledged, more than ever, the important role of e-commerce to many businesses especially food-related enterprises.

“We understand that there is still a great need for general and modern trade or supermarkets and groceries and it is very much essential for us as well as it still caters to Filipinos who opt to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. For us, it won’t be one or the other, as this multi-channel availability will allow us to reach our customers in the most convenient way possible,” the company said.

PGC counts on the Filipinos’ familiarity with its heritage products to remain as the go-to brand for staple condiments even amid the rise of artisanal, home-made brands, given the scope of its production and distribution reach.

For specialty condiments, Barrio Fiesta is the only brand able to produce and distribute products at scale commercially, across local and international markets, while maintaining high-quality and authentic taste, made possible with a strong business model.

“Our goal this year is to further dominate the category in both domestic and international markets. And in the next three years, we aspire to be among the top local companies in the sauces, dressings, condiments and package foods categories,” Villa-Real said.

Topics: Barrio Fiesta , Prime Global Corp. , Vincent Ace Villa-Real , COVID-19
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