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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.

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