Marketing food today demands an understanding of why people eat—and what they feel when they do
“It’s become an international fad, which is good for the sector because if social enterprises don’t hit the mainstream, then people won’t think too highly of it,” says Benjamin Abadiano.
It was less a decision to brand the business a social enterprise and more “a commitment to do good and impact people positively” that motivated Tajen Sui and Catherine Patacsil to create First Harvest, a Gawad Kalinga ( GK) community- based social enterprise.
Sui was working as operations manager of Grassroots Kitchen, the farm- to- table restaurant of GK Enchanted Farm, and it was through this that he witnessed the innate talent of GK mothers in whipping up delicious dishes. On lean operations, he would interact with the mothers as they experimented with jams and preserves, and got insights into the lives of their communities. “A lot of this talent goes unnoticed because there’s that gap between the producers and the market,” relates Sui.
That awareness eventually fueled Sui to team up with Patacsil, who was then working with Human Nature, to co- found First Harvest, a social enterprise that creates food specialty products sourced and manufactured locally, and whose flavorful nut- based spreads and other specialty products like Coco Sugar Peanut Spread, Tropical Citrus Vinaigrette, and Salted Coco Caramel are gaining a following.
“First Harvest uses premium ingredients. We source our peanuts from Nueva Ecija, skin the peanuts ourselves, and roast them on the same day. We use absolutely no extenders, and that makes the flavor naturally rich and we don’t need to add a lot of sugar,” says Patacsil. Beyond the products’ premium quality, Patacsil relates that people are purchasing their products because they know each purchase goes the extra mile in making Philippine farms sustainable, which in turn will arrest the poverty experienced by Filipino farmers today.
An insight gleaned throughout the course of First Harvest’s development, says Patacsil, is that there are a lot of people and institutions willing to do good and help out. “Through the years we have received the help of friends and volunteers, and even customers who share the same values,” she says.
Having always dreamed of “crafting and telling the story of a Filipino brand,” Patacsil finds meaning in the business she co- created. “We’re facing the dawn of the day when the youth want to live more purposeful lives and be part of the solution, which is why there’s a trend of getting into the business of kindness. Social entrepreneurship is about exercising conscience in the business, and for us, running First Harvest is one way we make ‘doing good’ sustainable.”
(This page, top) The First Harvest peanut butter uses real peanuts with no artificial flavors and coloring; Tajen Sui of First Harvest.(Opposite page, clockwise) Culture promoting coffee; Not do they only serve Cordillera coffee at Advocafe but also rice dishes like this fried biya, egg and heirloom rice.