The food industry is a great business to start in the Philippines. Apart from its famous beaches, the country has an abundant street food scene and local delicacies.
With the country’s rich culinary culture and love for food, there are plenty of unique food business ideas you can explore. In this article, we’ll be sharing seven exciting and creative food business ideas that you can start in the Philippines.
1. Carinderia (small food stall)
One of the most ubiquitous sights in the Philippines is the presence of small eateries or restaurants situated on the streets, in markets, school campuses, or busy neighbourhoods.
The type of business requires minimal startup capital, as it only necessitates a few tables and chairs, cooking utensils, basic ingredients, and refreshments. Hence, it can be conveniently set up in a backyard space near a busy street or high foot traffic area.
Examples of carinderia dishes to sell:
- Adobo – a classic Filipino dish made of pork or chicken marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and bay leaves, then simmered until tender.
- Sinigang – a sour soup made with a tamarind-based broth and meat or seafood, vegetables, and spices.
- Kare-kare – a peanut-based stew made with oxtail, beef, or tripe, and served with vegetables and bagoong (shrimp paste).
- Lechon Kawali – deep-fried pork belly with crispy skin on the outside and tender meat on the inside.
- Sisig – a sizzling dish made with chopped pig’s head and liver, seasoned with calamansi juice, onions, and chilli peppers.
- Lumpia – a Filipino version of spring rolls that are usually filled with vegetables, meat, or seafood.
2. Food cart
Food carts have become a popular culinary fixture in the Philippines, with many lining the bustling sidewalks of urban centres like Manila, Davao City, and Palayan. These carts offer a variety of convenient and tasty dishes for locals on the go, and can also be found near public areas like schools, churches, and parks, providing affordable meals to hungry customers.
As an important part of the country’s broader street food culture, food carts represent an excellent business opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs in the Philippines. With their low overhead costs and ability to offer quick and tasty meals to hungry customers, food carts can be an ideal choice for anyone looking to break into the competitive food industry.
Examples of food dishes to sell in a food cart
- Siomai and Dumplings – These bite-sized snacks are a favourite among Filipinos and can be found in various food carts across the country.
- Fried Foods – Popular options include fried chicken, fried fish balls, and french fries, which are all easy to prepare and can be sold at an affordable price point.
- Barbecue – Filipino-style barbecue, often made with pork or chicken, is a staple of the country’s street food scene and can be an excellent option for a food cart business.
- Tapsilog – A combination of tapa (dried or cured beef), sinangag (garlic fried rice), and itlog (egg), this hearty breakfast dish is a popular choice among Filipinos and can be a great addition to your food cart.
- Fruit Shakes – With the tropical climate of the Philippines, refreshing fruit shakes are always in demand. You could offer a range of flavours, such as mango, banana, and watermelon, to cater to different tastes.
- Kwek-kwek – A popular Filipino street food made with boiled quail eggs coated in a bright orange batter, kwek-kwek is a beloved snack that’s sure to attract customers.
3. Organic food
As the Filipino population increasingly prioritises healthy and sustainable food options, the demand for organic produce has grown significantly. Therefore, starting an organic food business is a unique and ideal venture to pursue in the Philippines.
To begin selling organic foods, you will need to source produce from local farmers and suppliers who practise organic farming methods. To expand your offerings, you may also consider pairing your organic produce with a range of natural and organic products, such as health supplements, personal care items, and household cleaners.
This will not only provide your customers with a wider variety of options, but also align with their interests in leading a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Examples of organic foods to sell
- Fruits and vegetables – Organic fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and apples are grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, making them a healthier option for consumers.
- Herbs and Spices – Organic herbs and spices like basil, oregano and thyme are free from chemical additives and preservatives, making them a popular choice among health-conscious consumers.
- Rice – Organic rice such as black, brown and red rice are grown using natural fertilisers and pest control methods, making it a healthier and more sustainable option.
- Eggs – Organic eggs come from chickens that are fed with organic feed and allowed to roam freely, making them a healthier and more ethical option for consumers.
- Meat and Poultry – Organic meat and poultry come from animals that are raised without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or synthetic feed additives, making them a healthier and more sustainable option.
4. Gourmet foods
As there are many food businesses in the Philippines, offering gourmet food can set you apart from the rest and cater to a specific market of customers who are looking for high-quality, unique and upscale food options.
One way to do so is to offer gourmet versions of Filipino dishes or create fusion cuisine that combines Filipino flavours with international cuisine. It can be a great opportunity to showcase your culinary creativity and skills while also meeting the demands of customers who are willing to pay a premium for high-quality and unique food experiences.
Examples of gourmet foods to sell
- Lechon de Leche – a slow-roasted piglet dish that is often served during special occasions
- Adobo sa Gata – a twist on the classic adobo dish, cooked with coconut milk for a richer flavour
- Laing with Crispy Dried Fish – a Bicolano dish made with taro leaves and coconut milk, topped with crispy dried fish
- Taba ng Talangka – a delicacy made from small crabs that are abundant in Pampanga, known for its rich and savoury taste
- Sisig Croquettes – a twist on the popular sisig dish, where the sisig is rolled into bite-sized croquettes and served with a spicy dip.
- Tapa Benedict – a gourmet take on the classic Filipino breakfast dish, where tapa (cured beef) is served on an English muffin with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
5. Baked goods
While bakeries are a common food business in the Philippines, offering unique and creative baked goods can make your bakery stand out in the market.
Additionally, offering gluten-free or vegan options can also cater to a growing market of health-conscious consumers. So, while it may not be considered a completely unique food business idea, putting a unique spin on a bakery can make it a successful venture in the Philippines.
Examples of baked goods to sell
- Ube (purple yam) pandesal – a Filipino take on the classic bread roll, made with purple yam for a unique flavour and colour.
- Banana oatmeal cookies – a gluten-free version of a classic cookie, made with mashed bananas, oatmeal, and other natural ingredients.
- Gluten-free ensaymada – a popular Filipino pastry made with a gluten-free flour blend and topped with butter, sugar, and cheese.
- Coconut flour brownies – a healthier alternative to traditional brownies, made with coconut flour and other natural ingredients.
- Buko (coconut) pie – a classic Filipino dessert made with a gluten-free pie crust and filled with creamy coconut custard.
6. Artisanal chocolates (locally sourced cocoa beans)
Artisanal chocolate is considered a premium and high-quality product that is not commonly found in regular supermarkets or convenience stores, making it a unique food business idea to start in the Philippines.
Moreover, by using locally sourced Philippine cocoa beans and traditional methods of chocolate-making, this unique food business model can support local farmers and businesses. This approach is also particularly attractive to the increasing number of health-conscious consumers seeking organic and natural products.
Examples of artisanal chocolates to sell
- Single-origin chocolate bars – These bars can showcase the unique flavour profiles of cocoa beans from different regions in the Philippines, such as Davao, Batangas, or Bohol.
- Chocolate-covered fruits and nuts – This product can offer a healthier alternative to traditional chocolate treats by incorporating locally sourced dried fruits and nuts like mangoes, bananas, and pili nuts.
- Chocolate spreads – Nutella-style chocolate spreads can be made with local cocoa beans and sweetened with natural sweeteners like coconut sugar or honey.
- Chocolate beverages – Hot chocolate and chocolate milk are classic drinks that can be made with high-quality locally sourced cocoa and served in cafes or sold in bottles or sachets.
A farm-to-table restaurant is considered a unique business idea to start in the Philippines because it promotes the use of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, supporting local farmers and producers.
This concept emphasises the freshness, quality, and sustainability of ingredients, which can be attractive to health-conscious consumers who prioritise these factors in their food choices.
Additionally, it provides a unique dining experience where customers can taste and appreciate the flavours of local and traditional cuisine. As a result, a farm-to-table restaurant can differentiate itself from other restaurants and potentially attract a niche market of customers who value and appreciate locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.
Examples of farm-to-table dishes to sell
- Adobo – made with organic chicken or pork, locally grown garlic, and vinegar made from coconut or sugarcane.
- Sinigang – using fresh seafood from nearby markets, paired with locally grown vegetables such as okra, kangkong, and tomatoes.
- Grilled vegetables – like eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers, served with a homemade dipping sauce made with local herbs.
- Organic salads – made with greens sourced from nearby farms, topped with local fruits like mangoes, pomelos, and avocados.
- Lechon – made with free-range pigs, seasoned with local herbs and spices, and served with traditional condiments like soy sauce, vinegar, and calamansi.
- Beef tapa – made with grass-fed beef, marinated in a mixture of local spices and vinegar, served with organic rice and a side of fresh tomatoes and onions.
Starting a unique food business
The aforementioned 7 unique food business ideas are just a few of the many possibilities to explore in the Philippines. Starting a food business in the country is generally inexpensive due to the affordable cost of ingredients and materials.
However, it’s essential to begin with a solid business plan to ensure a smooth path towards success. By doing so, you’ll have a clearer idea of your goals, target market, competition, and financial projections, among other essential factors that contribute to a thriving food business.