Aiming to develop Ilocos Norte as an ultimate destination of export-ready and top-quality food products, the Bakers and Restaurant Association of Ilocos Norte (BRAIN) successfully held the third Ilocos Norte Food and Trade Expo (INFOTEX) on December 3 to 5, 2015 at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena, Laoag City.
In partnership with the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), BRAIN has organized INFOTEX to become an avenue that highlights the dynamic gastronomic scene of the province by bringing together local buyers and sellers.
Most importantly, the event offers the province’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) diversified purchasing options.
“This year, we intensified our support to our SMEs as we provide them a unified trading platform where all supplies, ingredients and equipment are in one place,” said Pamela Aragoza, noted restaurateur and INFOTEX organizer.
She added that the expo assists SMEs to widen their advertising reach as “they had the chance to introduce and showcase their products and merchandises to the general public.”
Believing that SMEs have an important role in the economic growth of the province, Governor Imee R. Marcos has actively shown support by providing them financial assistance as well as opportunities to promote their products and services.
Last May, the provincial government helped various Ilocano food entrepreneurs in joining the International Food Expo, the country’s most celebrated food trade show.
Reaching a record-high of 380.64% increase in tourist arrivals in the past two years, Ilocos Norte’s gastronomic tourism, which attracts thousands of locals and foreigners alike, has been actively promoted by Governor Marcos.
Ilocos Norte Tourism Head Aianree Racquel revealed during the expo’s opening that more projects and activities are being planned to improve the province’s gastronomic scene.
“We just launched on December 1 the Dragon Fruit Wine and Imeldifique Cooking Wine which are made out of Ilocos raw ingredients of garlic and dragon fruit. This is a significant project because the products are produced by Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc., the oldest distillery in the country.” said Racquel.
He added that this project enables “a big company to produce products inspired from the province…ready for the international market” also hoping that it “will boost local production and to encourage more investments in Ilocos Norte.”
Aside from the food trade and exposition, the event also included on-the-spot series of showdowns that displayed the culinary skills of students from different schools in the province. The contested activities included table setting, cake decorating, fruit and vegetable carving, local cuisine cook-off and dessert bake-off.
“INFOTEX has been greatly supported by Governor Marcos. We would like to thank her for continuously being part the activities of BRAIN – for giving us the venue and for all the things that we need to make this (event) work,” said Aragoza.—(John Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)