MANILA -- “Newer, better, healthier.”
The instantly appealing line to promote Bakery Fair 2019, organized by the Filipino Chinese Bakery Association, Inc. (FCBAI), cannot get any catchier.
Indeed, there is a growing interest in baked goods, mirrored by the passion for baking of a growing number of celebrities.
On February 15 to 17, 2019 at the World Trade Center, the FCBAI will hold Bakery Fair 2019, touted as the biggest trade show in the baking and food service industry which started in 2001. Expected this time are 176 booths by big and small exhibitors, featuring all kinds of baking supplies, equipment, confectionery and food service.
“For 2018, we even did it in Davao last March,” shared FCBAI president Peter Fung. “So it was very taxing on our part and also tough for the exhibitors. Break even lang kami sa earnings. The exhibitors advised us not to do the fair again every year.”
The set-up of a booth alone costs P1 million, according to Fung. “The exhibitors will rent the booth for three days, build their own structure and design it for the competition,” he explained. “Some exhibitors really invest in their booths to compete.”
Universal Robina Corporation (URC) won “Best Booth” three times to date. There are also dance competitions on the opening day featuring the promo girls of the respective booths. Flour millers likewise have different gimmicks.
“Every time you will hold an exhibit, the return of investment (ROI) is very important for every exhibitor if they could generate more sales,” Fung said. “On our part, we promote. We try to showcase the technology and whatever is new. It means more business for the exhibitors.”
However, Fung reasoned FCBAI cannot showcase something new every year. This is the reason they only hold Bakery Fair every two years. “In 2017, there were 245 exhibitors. In 2019, there will be 176 participants. There are exhibitors who get as much as 25 booths.”
To avoid favoritism, Fung disclosed a simple “dice game” is done for the exhibitors in getting booth space. “Everyone wants to get the space in front, especially for big-time exhibitors. We offer them space at the back, but they don’t want to get it. So that’s where the dice game comes in.”
Bakery Fair aims to foster awareness on the importance of updating the baking industry on the latest trends in baking technology and ideas, new equipment and ingredients, latest packaging concept and materials.
“We are not really after the money,” Fung stressed. “We just want to strongly promote the baking industry. In the Philippines, there’s an association of flour millers and then there’s the Philippine Baking Industry.”
The 52-year-old FCBAI is a non-stock, non-profit organization of mostly small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the Filipino-Chinese bakery industry.
“In our meeting we speak Chinese, although that is not discriminatory in any way,” Fung said.
“The Bakery Fair is not our business. Our association runs it and mounts it. We just engage services of very few people to help us along the way. Since 2001, there have been 11 exhibits held biennially, including the Davao event this 2018.”
Security is a main concern every time the Bakery Fair is held. “Restrictions as far as the use of oven and use of flammable items is also taken into consideration,” Fung maintained.
“Exhibitors go to the extent of competing and fighting. In the booth design, they do it secretly. They keep everything under wraps. We try to segregate them. But you cannot avoid the competition or the noise. Each exhibitor has its own gimmicks and expertise.”
There are some who teach baking or hire their own technicians. There are others who conduct seminars. “Bakery is very interesting,” Fung said. “The creativity of Filipino bakers comes out every time we hold Bakery Fair.”
In 2017, the FCBAI targeted 20,000 visitors in three days of the fair and they were able to successfully achieve it. For Bakery Fair 2019, they are expecting more people to flock to the World Trade Center.
“We were able to widen our networks more the last time,” Fung said. “I think we will do better for 2019.”
There will be a cake competition on the first day of the fair. Already, there are over 60 participants. Nature will be the theme in the 2019 competition. Minimum height for the cake is five feet.
There will also be baking seminars for adults, teens and kids. There are training and competitions. There will be many activities to look forward to and participate in.
There are foreign companies who will exhibit their products in the coming fair. So far, 75 percent are old exhibitors, but 25 percent make up the new ones.
Aside from giving them business, exhibitors expand their client base and learn the latest in the industry even from their competitors or interact with the other bakers
Fung and his executive vice president, William Ong, are leaving no stones unturned to ensure a successful event.
“The downside is we lose time for our respective businesses,” Fung offered. “But so far, all positive. Every activity has its stress or problems. Every problem is easily solved."