Competition in the Philippines is intense and growing, so USMEF is taking innovative approaches to marketing U.S. red meat to both existing and potential customers. An example of this effort was the recent “5-Star Night,” a celebration of American meat in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), a fast-rising financial and commercial district in metropolitan Manila.
The event featured U.S. pork and beef dishes from popular BGC restaurants being served to importers, business executives, food bloggers and social media influencers. Funding was provided by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the National Pork Board and the Beef Checkoff Program.
Top Shelf at Fully Booked, a reception venue in Taguig City, hosted the promotional activity. The setting provided an opportunity for chefs to showcase U.S. pork and beef dishes from their restaurant menus.
“Our goal was to build awareness and strengthen the U.S. brand among Filipino consumers by showcasing restaurant recipes that use U.S. pork and beef,” said Sabrina Yin, USMEF’s ASEAN director. “We used the event to build relationships with Manila’s restaurant sector while also differentiating U.S. red meat from the competition by highlighting the many advantages U.S. products offer.”
Yin said the BGC was a strategic location for 5-Star Night because of its rapid growth and emerging food scene. The area has become home to luxury shopping centers, condominiums, recreational facilities, corporate offices and upscale restaurants.
Local food experts and chefs talked about their experiences with U.S. products and the value of including U.S. red meat dishes on their menus. Participants tasted the dishes and many were interviewed by members of the local media and food bloggers. Compliments about the dishes were shared on social media.
Morgan Haas, agricultural counselor for the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Manila, opened the event by explaining the steps taken by U.S. producers and exporters that result in consistent quality.
Haas was followed by Sau del Rosario, a celebrity chef in Manila and ambassador for 5-Star Night. Rosario, whose signature dish is crispy U.S. pork belly and truffled macadamia kare-kare, shared his experience using U.S. red meat, emphasizing its taste, quality and reliability.
The first restaurant to showcase its 5-Star dish was Mimi & Bros, one of the newest restaurants in BGC and one that is famous for U.S. pork and beef ribs. The restaurant’s head chef, Edward Bugia, featured slow-cooked U.S. pork ribs with pumpkin puree.
Before the program moved on to the next featured restaurant, an interactive trivia game was conducted. Those in attendance used their mobile phones to answer questions about U.S. beef. Topics ranged from the type of feed used to produce U.S. beef to the average protein requirement provided in a serving of lean meat.
“We made sure the questions and choices were relevant to Filipino consumers,” said Yin. Trivia contest winners received gift certificates to the participating restaurants.
The next restaurant featured was Jinjoo Korean Grill, one of the most popular Korean-style restaurants in Manila. The restaurant uses both U.S. pork and beef in its samgyeopsal and galbi dishes. For the 5 Star Night, chef JM Libron featured galbi made with U.S. beef short ribs. Libron told attendees the quality of U.S. beef ribs makes Jinjoo’s dishes more appetizing.
A U.S. pork trivia game was also held, with questions varying from the best cut to use for Adobo (a famous Filipino dish) to the reasons for using belly for bacon.
The last participating restaurant was Fireside, one of the restaurant brands under Meat Plus Specialists Philippines Inc. Other restaurants under the company are Kettle, Meat Plus Cafe and Tender Bob’s.
“USMEF has a good relationship with Meat Plus Specialists and the corporate chef at Fireside has been a member the American Beef Club in the Philippines,” said Yin. “The restaurant’s operations manager and chef, Gigi Canlas, talked about the featured 5-Star dish for the night, the Fireside house burger made with U.S. beef. She highlighted that because of its high quality, the U.S. beef used is only lightly seasoned.”
Media and social media coverage of the 5-Star Night was broad. Some examples include: