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Starting a food business in the Philippines

Last updated: December 1, 2022
Written by: Alyssa Divina | Reviewed by: Rafael Hular

Key takeaways:

  • There are lots of food business ideas in the Philippines.
  • You just need to have enough capital to start and survive.
  • Prepare your business plan and market your business.
  • You can get a food business loan from Digido.

Filipino food is such an integral part of our day to day life. For beginners, it satisfies our hunger, keeps us on the go, and can be used to forge societal connections. More than that, Filipino food speaks largely about who we are as people and as a nation.

These are some of the main reasons why Filipino food businesses are profitable. In fact, with the advent of social media, more people are now thinking about starting their own food ventures.

But how do you start a food business from home? First, you can build your own brand, or you can acquire a food business franchise from different brands in the Philippines.

If you’re not yet ready big, there are lots of Pinoy small businesses ideas like food on the go and street food stalls. But of course, first you need to have a business plan, a capital, and your target market example for your food.

Food service industry in the Philippines

The food service industry is one of the fastest-growing markets in the Philippines. Virtually any Filipino can set up their own food business here as the barrier to entry is low. You don’t even need lots of capital to start a small food stall outside your home.

If you set up shop in a location with high foot traffic (e.g. schools, offices, marketplaces), you can take advantage by scaling up and offering more food items or other services. Or you can skip the physical store and sell your products exclusively on Facebook and Instagram. The possibilities are endless!

While the food service industry is filled with quick-service restaurants, delivery and food on-the-go services are on the rise due to the ease and speed of ordering online through apps and social media. Customers are also more willing to pay for and try new cuisines and dishes.

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How to open a food business in the Philippines

Opening a food business in the Philippines still requires a lot of thinking and preparation. Sometimes, it’s not as simple as setting up a small table in front of your house and calling it a day. You have to think about your capital, strategy, logistics, manpower, operating hours, and licenses and fees.

How much capital is needed to put up the business? What food items are you going to offer? What kind of street food business will your customers like? Where is your location? Is it going to be a food cart, or are you going all out for a full-scale restaurant?

We’ll show you tips on starting a food business, from a small stall to a restaurant or franchise.

Decide on your theme or concept

There are lots of Pinoy food business ideas out there. Do you want to sell street or pica-pica foods, a cozy cafe, or healthy food for lunch? Choosing a theme can help you gauge the amount of capital that you will need and the logistics and manpower that will support your business.

If you’re having a hard time finalizing your concept, observe your surroundings and your potential customer base. Are you located near a school? A palengke or city center? Are there large or small businesses around? Are there food businesses near your location, and if so, what types of food are they selling?

Franchise or independent?

Independent food businesses and food franchises both have their own pros and cons. Going independent allows you to set your own pace and do everything in terms of operations, logistics and growing your brand. It allows you to start even with little capital, without worrying about franchise costs.

With a food franchise, you can take advantage of strong and established brands like Siomai House, Potato Corner, Jollibee or McDonald’s. These franchises will help you with operations, logistics and manpower so you don’t have to do everything yourself.

Gather your capital

The most important factor in a food business is capital. Without capital, you won’t have the money to choose a location, pay fees, invest in logistics and manpower and fund day-to-day operations.

Before starting your business, make sure that you have enough capital that will fund your business until it becomes profitable. Save a portion of your monthly income, invite potential investors, or take a loan from the bank.

But how much capital is needed to put up the business? This will depend on what kind of food business you want, and how big. First, you need to make a business plan. List down all of the related expenses, from logistics to marketing. Have spare money that you can use to steer your business through tough times.

Pick a strategic location

Your food business must be located somewhere with high foot traffic that can bring you stable profits. Remember: you can offer the best-tasting food or the most Instagrammable facade, but if you’re located in the middle of nowhere, no one will come.

These locations include schools, town or city centers, business districts, tourist attractions, marketplaces, terminals, and roadsides. These are your target market examples for your food offerings. Make sure that your items are catered based on where you are located and who your customers are.

Choose a reliable supplier

Having fresh and high-quality ingredients is important for a food business. That’s why you need to pick and invest in a supplier that will help you source these items.

Having a good relationship with the right supplier/s can help you save on costs through bulk items and discounts, while ensuring that you get the best ingredients possible.

You can build a good rapport with your supplier by honoring your contract, paying your dues on time and not overpromising on your negotiations.

Invest in equipment and manpower

If you’re planning to open a small food business from your home, you can start with your own stove, refrigerator, pans, pots and other cooking equipment.

As your business grows and you earn more profit, you can buy new equipment that will help you prepare and deliver food more efficiently. Buy a stove with more burners, a bigger fridge, food processor if applicable, more containers and utensils, etc.

If you’re just starting out, maybe you can run your business on your own. But it helps if you have a person or two who can assist you with some aspects of your business. If you’re the one who’s doing the cooking, you can hire one person for delivery, for the finances, etc.

Make sure that you invest in the right equipment supplier and the right manpower for your food business. Do background checks and don’t rely on word of mouth only.

Set your prices

Setting prices for your food business can be tricky. Setting your prices too high can turn off potential customers. Low prices will not help you turn any profit.

You can find the sweet spot in terms of prices by computing the daily costs of business and surveying other food stalls and stores in your area. You must also observe your target market and observe how much they are willing to spend on food.

Sort out your permits

Before starting operations, make sure that your food business has secured all of the necessary permits. These include business permit, mayor’s permit, sanitary permit, DTI business name certificate, and BIR registration.

Generate buzz about your business!

Once you’ve got everything ready, time to spread the word about your food business! Invite your family and friends, have an eye-catching signage, promote your business on social media, and do a countdown until your big launch!

Before your big opening, you also can do a soft opening where you invite people to try out dishes first.

On or before the big day, you can advertise launch discounts, buy one take one deals, group deals, promo codes, and free gifts in order to keep the buzz going.

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Food business ideas with small capital

Now that you know how to open a food business, here are some Pinoy food business ideas that you can start with only a small capital! These can be street food businesses or a commercial stall of your own.

Here are some profitable businesses on Filipino merienda and recipes!

Milk tea

Milk tea is still very popular in the Philippines particularly among the young. It is sweet, tasty and a quick way to beat the heat. As a business, a milk tea stand can be profitable even if you’re just running your own stall in front of your home.

Even with lots of competitors around, your milk tea business can stand out by offering new or uncommon flavors, having outside seating, and additional items like pica-pica food. Let your imagination run wild with milk tea tagline ideas that will make your customers curious about your business!

Pica-pica food

Pica-pica foods like lumpia, barbecue, hotdogs on stick, fried chicken pops, fish balls, and siomai are popular among Filipinos because these can be eaten as merienda or part of a rice meal.

Pica-pica food stalls are everywhere and affordable, making them in demand especially in schools and offices where people like quick and cheap meals.

Porksilog and chicken silog

Other popular food items for busy and budget-savvy Filipinos are porksilog and chicken silog. Even with as little as Php 50, you can buy a silog meal that is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

To have a successful silog business, offer other silog meals aside from porksilog and chicken silog. Popular variants include:

  • Tapsilog
  • Chosilog
  • Tocilog
  • Hotsilog
  • Cornsilog
  • Longsilog

To entice more customers, consider selling a “value meal” consisting of a silog meal and a drink at an affordable price. The drink can either be a cup of hot coffee or a glass of fruit juice or soft drink. You can add Php 5 to Php 10 on top of the a la carte silog meal.

It would also help if you have a free drinking water station, as well as condiments (soy sauce, vinegar, mayonnaise, ketchup) and small candies and cigarettes.

French fries

French fries is a must-have street food in the Philippines. It is a sought-after snack especially among kids. You can sell plain ol’ french fries or you can spice it up by adding flavors (cheese, BBQ, ranch) or condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard).

The good thing about selling french fries is that you can start your own stall or franchise a brand like Potato Corner. With starting your own stall, you get to choose the french fry servings, find your own supplier, experiment on flavors, and expand your business as you like.

When you franchise a Potato Corner stall, you get to leverage its strong brand to offer french fries that are high quality yet affordable.

Sari-sari store

Sari-sari stores offer basic goods like candies, cigarettes, snacks, canned goods, noodles, soft drinks, toiletries and even ice water. They are very convenient and lucrative, especially in neighborhoods, palengkes, schools and roadsides.

You don’t need lots of capital to start a sari-sari store especially if you’re just going to build one in front of your house. If your store is located in a high-traffic area, you can see profits in no time.

Ihaw stand

Ihaw stands are popular among sellers and buyers alike because of their low cost and value for money. Ingredients are easy to source as well. You just need to prepare the meat, skewers, lots of charcoal, your own grill, the sauces and marinade.

To have a successful ihaw stand, make sure you have all the common variants (pork meat, chicken feet, betamax, isaw, hotdog on sticks) and the sauces (sweet, spicy, vinegar). Store them properly in your refrigerator to avoid spoilage. Also, always make sure that your grill is cleaned regularly and your sauces stored properly as well.

Drinks stand

Another in-demand stall for people on the go is a drink stand. You just need to have drinking water, soft drinks, fruit juices, hot coffee, and even buko juice in bottles stored in a cooler.

This type of stand is most commonly seen near public transportation terminals, train stations, offices, malls and on sidewalks where there is a high volume of foot traffic.

Coffee shop

Just like milk tea shops, coffee shops are popular hangout spots in the Philippines. In a coffee shop, people can enjoy their hot or iced coffee and catch up with friends, do some work on their laptops, or just enjoy the ambiance. Coffee shops can have both indoor and outdoor sitting.

Make sure that you have high-quality coffee beans and the appropriate equipment. The main coffee variants that can be sourced within the Philippines are arabica, robusta, liberica and excelsa.

Aside from coffee, you can offer tea, juice drinks, delicacies, snacks and even full meals. A free high-speed Wifi will attract students and remote employees looking for a quiet place to work.

If you are located near a tourist destination, offer lots of outdoor seating and parking spots. Coffee shops with a view deck overlooking the city or a nature spot are also popular.

Kanto fried or grilled chicken stand

Filipinos love chicken, especially if fried or grilled. Grilled chicken is a must-have particularly during parties and special occasions while fried chicken is an easy to-go viand and snack. You can start your own cooked chicken at home or you can franchise brands such as Andoks and Sr. Pedro.

Shawarma stand

Shawarmas are quick and easy snacks and can even be offered as part of a rice meal. Just like fried chicken stands, you can build your own shawarma brand or opt for a franchise.

Bakery

Bread is a must-have for every Filipino household, that’s why bakeries prove to be profitable businesses. A morning meal is not complete without pandesal or loaf bread. Ensaymada, cheese bread, and ube bread are perfect afternoon snacks partnered with coffee or juice.

If you have enough space in your home, you can buy your own oven for quick batches. If you’re located in a palengke, you can expand your own bakery to include more types of bread and cakes, or opt for a franchise.

Carinderia

Carinderias are vital sources of quick and budget-friendly homemade meals. Perhaps the most important contribution of a carinderia in Filipino society is that it reminds us that our cuisine is diverse and plentiful and can be just as delicious as international cuisines.

Make sure that your location has high foot traffic that has high demand for budget-friendly carinderia meals. Have a reliable supplier or go to the palengke during the early morning hours to get the freshest ingredients possible.

It’s okay if you want to start with your own stove, refrigerator and cooking equipment at first, but as business grows, it greatly helps to acquire more equipment to keep up with demand.

FAQ

  • What food business is profitable in the Philippines?
    Anything that will allow people to have a quick, tasty and inexpensive snack. For example, pica-pica food, french fries, shawarma, etc.
  • How much money do you need to start a food business in the Philippines?
    You can start a small business with 20,000 pesos. If you want to cook at home, the costs will be even lower.
  • Is food business good in the Philippines?
    A food service business in the Philippines is an ideal option for supplemental income. If all goes well, the income can become the main.

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Homemade food business ideas in the Philippines

Are you thinking of starting your own carinderia, restaurant, or even just an online homemade food business in the Philippines? Here are some home-made meal and merienda recipe ideas if you want to venture in this business!

Rice meals

When it comes to Filipino food and taste, nothing beats a good old rice meal! Rice is such a staple food that you can offer breakfast, lunch and dinner rice meals at affordable prices! You can keep it simple with classics like silog, adobo, sinigang, and caldereta or introduce dishes from different Philippine cuisines. You can even expand into a catering business for schools and offices.

Baked goods

Whether you’re a professional or hobbyist, you can turn baking into a profitable venture here in the Philippines! Whip up your best cakes, breads, pastries, cookies and other baked goods and sell them online or in person! You can accept orders for personalized goods during parties and celebrations.

Another way to market your baked goods is by setting up a booth in bazaars and open food markets. You can offer free tastes, buy one take one deals, discounts, or packages to sell and promote your products.

Meal plans

Filipinos are becoming health-conscious and are now more watchful of their eating habits. To help people achieve their fitness goals, cook and sell meal plans according to various diets such as high-protein, low-calorie, low-carb, keto, even vegan and pescetarian. Promote healthy food for lunch and dinner in the Philippines!

Pasta and pancit

Just like rice and bread, pasta and pansit can fulfill Filipinos’ love for carbohydrates. Pasta and pansit are musts for parties, fiestas and other celebrations, so you can offer pasta and pancit dishes in large quantities or a la carte style.

International cuisines

Satisfy Filipinos’ longing for travel through dishes from international cuisines! You don’t need to spend lots of money for plane and accommodation just to try your favorite Asian, Arabic, European, or Latin American food.

Make people feel like they have traveled to other countries through adopting popular international cuisines and adding some local flair to it!

Desserts

Filipinos are notorious for their sweet tooth. Fill your customer’s sweet cravings with homemade cakes, cookies, leche flan, mango float, and other delicacies!

Food business loan in the Philippines

There are many ideas to choose from if you’re planning to start a food business. But whether it’s just going to be a small stall in front of your home, a full-scale restaurant, or an online shop, you’re going to need lots of money as capital and to support day-to-day operations.

Aspiring businesspeople are urged to save up money for capital. But we understand that sometimes saving is not enough, that’s why people resort to loans to fund their food businesses. And with Digido, you can get quick cash loans up to Php 25,000 that you can use as capital!

It’s easy to apply for a business loan through Digido. Simply download the app on your smartphone, sign up for an account, fill out the application form with your personal and employment details, input the amount that you need, then press apply!

No need for lots of paperwork and long lines to the bank! You can get credit at a minimum of Php 1,000, with a maximum of Php 25,000 for repeat borrowers!
With a Php 25,000 loan, you can now start your small food business in the Philippines such as:

  • Mini sari-sari store
  • Ihaw and BBQ stall
  • Drinks stall
  • French fries stall
  • Pica-pica and merienda stall

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Conclusion

There are lots of food business ideas in the Philippines. It is now easy to turn your homemade food or merienda ideas into a lucrative venture. You just need to have enough capital to start and survive.

Wondering how to start a food business from home? Prepare your business plan, have your capital ready, secure your logistics, hire manpower, and market your business. But if you don’t have enough capital yet, you can get a food business loan from Digido.

Authors

Alyssa Divina
Author pages:
Alyssa Divina pens blog articles about a wide range of topics, such as money matters and government transactions in the Philippines. Prior to joining Digido Finance Corp., she served as a journalist for Charlton Media Group, a business news magazine, for two years. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Rafael Hular
Author pages:
Rafael “Raffy” L. Hular is, the Finance and Accounting Manager. of Digido Finance Corp., monitoring and controlling the flow of cash that comes in and out of the company to meet the company’s business needs, preparing the financial reports and analysis of income and expenses, and monitoring tax compliance.  Raffy loves reading Japanese comics called manga and watching Japanese animated cartoon series. He dreams of establishing his own Accounting and Auditing Firm and teaching in a University.

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