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Press Release




Assistant Secretary Guevarra (2nd from right) provides details on the sample products being examined by Truong Enterprises Vice President for Sales Chau Truong (left) and Director for Strategy Jasmine Truong (2nd from left) as DA Market Development Division OIC-Chief Joyce Bengo (right) looks on. (Photo: DA/Marlon Rufo)

22 April 2024 (Chicago) - A Philippine delegation comprised of officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA), with the assistance of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, conducted market scanning activities in various business sites in Chicago on 16 April 2024.

The seven-person delegation was led by DA Assistant Secretary for Consumer Affairs Genevieve Velicaria-Guevarra and Agriculture Counsellor Lupiño Lazaro, Jr. The market scanning was facilitated by the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago under the tutelage of Consul General J. Susana V. Paez. The Philippine Consulate participated in the site visits through a team led by Consul Ryan Francis Gener.

The delegation visited Truong Enterprises, Starbucks’ Chicago Roastery, Mano Modern Cafe, Seafood City Supermarket, Ima’s Kitchen, Chocs ‘N Boxes, and Veloria Coffee.

Truong Enterprises Vice President for Sales Chau Truong and Director of Strategy Jasmine Truong provided a guided tour of the distribution facility of one of the top Asian food wholesalers in the Midwest. Thereafter, they met with the delegation, discussed emerging consumer trends, and inquired about the Philippine export products introduced by Assistant Secretary Guevarra and Market Development Division OIC-Chief Joyce Bengo.

Starbucks Reserve event specialist Oscar Gomez provided an overview of the Chicago Roastery, the coffee chain’s largest store in the world, and shared that out of about 38,000 stores worldwide, around 450 were located in the Philippines. He also discussed the state-of-the-art facilities in the store, which contained three coffee bars, a scooping bar, bakery and café, and cocktail bar, and talked about emerging consumer trends and tastes.

The delegation also visited Mano Modern Café to try out the specialty offerings, including ube latte and chai ube. They then proceeded to top Filipino-American supermarket chain Seafood City to scan products on shelves, and the adjacent new Kapampangan restaurant Ima’s Kitchen, which was also offering coffee sourced from Batangas and Quezon.

The delegation then proceeded to award-winning chocolate shop Chocs ‘N Boxes, which sources sustainably from the first certified organic cacao farm in the Philippines located in Calbayog, Samar. The delegation was given a tour and chocolate tasting experience by co-owners Atty. Gerry Dean and head chocolatier Sailyn Dean. They shared the growing demand for Philippine chocolate by retail consumers and hotels in the Windy City. Chocs ‘N Boxes has won numerous awards, including three medals (silver for its 40% Bahandi milk chocolate, silver for calamansi caramel bonbon, and bronze for caramelized hazelnut chocolate ball) at the International Chocolate Awards 2022 in New York.

The delegation also visited the coffee roasting facility of Veloria Coffee, where co-owners Ron and Vilma Edrosa discussed the roasting process, market opportunities and challenges in sourcing coffee from the Philippines.

Overall, the site visits revealed a growing demand for Filipino specialty coffee, chocolate, and other food products such as dried mangoes, banana and ube chips, and seafood.

The Department of Agriculture, with the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC – Office of the Agriculture Counsellor and the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, discovered the intricacies of the coffee, chocolate and overall food market in the Midwest, and sought to follow up on the interest and concerns raised to enhance access to Philippine agricultural export products. This would further contribute to the Philippine government’s agribusiness thrust and inclusive growth objectives, including providing more opportunities for Filipino farm growers to expand their markets and further enhance quality and productivity.END

Chau Truong (left) tours (L-R) Agribusiness Specialist Andy Ango, Marketing Specialist Marlon Rufo, and Agriculture Counsellor Lupino Lazaro, Jr. in the Truong Enterprises’ distribution facility in Chicago. (Photo: Chicago PCG/Ryan Gener)

Assistant Secretary Guevarra (5th from left) poses with (L-R) Joyce Bengo, Richard Osea, Leah Magaway, Lupino Lazaro, Andy Ango, Luzviminda Tolentino, Ryan Gener and Marlon Rufo in front of the 56-foot cask at the Chicago Roastery, Starbucks’ largest coffee shop in the world. (Photo: Starbucks Roastery/Oscar Gomez)

Agriculture Counsellor Lazaro enjoys the ube latte at Mano Modern Café. (Photo: DA/Marlon Rufo)

Assistant Secretary Guevarra chats with Chocs ‘N Boxes chocolatier Noel Santos as a batch of liquid chocolate (right foreground) is being prepared. (Photo: DA/Marlon Rufo)

(L-R) Counsellor Lazaro, Mr. Ango, Chocs’ N Boxes co-owners Gerry Dean and head chocolatier Sailyn Dean, and Assistant Secretary Guevarra pose beside a freshly roasted tray of cacao nibs. (Photo: DA/Marlon Rufo)

Veloria Coffee Ron Edrosa (standing) shares with the delegation samples of Barako and other coffee varieties at his roasting facility. (Photo: DA/Marlon Rufo)