As the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled businesses across industries, this Filipino brand has found a silver lining—pushing through with an expansion plan despite challenging times.
Prime Global Corporation (PGC) is taking on the “new normal” with optimism as it leverages Filipinos’ rekindled love for home-cooking and the rise of the home-based food delivery business amid dine-out and movement restrictions to boost sales of its Barrio Fiesta products.
Adjusting to a changed food business landscape, Barrio Fiesta has recalibrated its sales approach, upping its online presence as it continues to diversify its product portfolio, from its top-selling shrimp paste to new sauces, spreads, dry mixes and snacks.
“Fortunately for the packaged food category, we are seeing growth opportunities still as people continue to remain at home, opting for home-cooked meals and seeing the rise of ‘home chefs.’ We anticipate that the ‘new normal’ will continue to bring about more interest, creativity and enthusiasm for lutong-bahay recipes, and we want to be there for them,” said Reychelle Ann Gigante, PGC Marketing Head.
Through its social media pages, Barrio Fiesta is providing Filipino cooks lutong-bahay recipes and tips, noting the many that are still locked down at home are shifting their budgets to home-cooked meals while small entrepreneurs have gone into the online food business in place of lost livelihood.
This is where PGC saw an opportunity to help while selling its products in the safest possible way: no on-site promotional events and mostly a virtual interface with its target market.
“All on-ground activities have been cancelled, current digital content efforts have been geared towards engaging our online audience with useful recipes and tips using our products, and recently we opened our Facebook page to online bulk orders for those who would be interested to resell Barrio Fiesta products within their community,” Gigante said.
PGC has also shifted to digital marketing, seeing greater spending on online promotional ventures as the pandemic continues.
At the same time, it maintains presence in physical stores—its primary trade channel—to cater to Filipinos who still opt to shop outside. Barrio Fiesta products are available in supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, drug stores and sari-sari-stores.
“While we very much acknowledge the important role that e-commerce has played during the new normal, we also 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,” Gigante 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.
“We are aware that there are small online entrepreneurs selling specialty or artisanal bagoong and condiments, and this just goes to show how huge and dynamic the food market is,” Gigante said. “As for specialty condiments, at the moment, Barrio Fiesta is the only brand able to produce and distribute its products at scale commercially, across local and international markets, while maintaining high quality and authentic taste, made possible with a strong business model.”
Barrio Fiesta commands a 65-percent market share of the local sautéed shrimp paste category and 95 percent of the international market 2019.
“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,” said Vincent Ace Villa-Real, President and Chief Operating Officer of 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,” Villa-Real said.
The manufacturing business of Barrio Fiesta sautéed shrimp paste was acquired by the Ang-Hortaleza Corporation through a subsidiary in 2011. The brand is now under Prime Global Corporation, a manufacturing, marketing and distribution subsidiary company owned by the Hortaleza Corporation holding company.
Earlier this year, it released its own version of everyday condiments and snacks: the Barrio Fiesta Gourmet Series Patis (ﬁsh sauce), Barrio Fiesta Tubasuk (spiced sugar cane vinegar), 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 added.