NEW Zealand hopes to increase the presence of its food and beverage products in Cebu, citing opportunities in the growing tourism sector.

“The idea of joining the expo is to have a better feel of the Cebu market,” said New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) commissioner to Manila Ramoncito Bernales on the sidelines of the 11th Cebu Food Expo at Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino last Friday.

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NZTE was an exhibitor at the three-day food expo that kicked off last Thursday. New Zealand’s kiwi fruit, wine, meat and dairy products were among the products showcased

for the first time at the expo.

NZTE is the New Zealand government’s national economic development agency. It works to stimulate economic growth by helping to boost export earnings, strengthen regional economies and deliver economic development assistance to industries and individual businesses.

NZTE works with international businesses and investors, connecting them to New Zealand business opportunities.

Some of New Zealand’s products have reached the Cebu market, but Bernales told Sun.Star Cebu the team wants to strengthen its presence here because of the city’s growing tourism industry.

“Cebu is one of the largest commercial retail market outlets in the country, and we want to formalize our involvement through joining this expo,” he said.

NZTE hopes to tap the tourism sector, particularly the hotel and restaurant industry of Cebu, for its food and beverage products.

NZTE regional director for South and Southeast Asia Alan Koziarski also expressed optimism in the market, noting the foot traffic during the three-day expo.

“The market is so receptive. It is encouraging to note the number of students coming to visit the booths,” he said.

New Zealand’s food and beverage sector is the country’s largest manufacturing sector by total output. The value of New Zealand’s food and beverage exports to 180 countries increased from $4.99 billion in 1990 to $15.77 billion in 2009.

The Philippines, Koziarski said, is the 14th largest export market of the country.

New Zealand’s exports to the Philippines totaled $239.1 million in the first five months of the year, representing a 67 percent increase over the same period last year.

Koziarski said the growth of New Zealand’s export industry can be attributed to the country’s commitment to produce quality food and beverage products.

“The export success is also underpinned by strong commitments towards achieving industry-certified levels in the areas of food traceability, innovation and sustainable production.

Stringent food safety laws, regulations and practices from governing agencies, such as the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, ensure that the world can enjoy its high-quality produce,” a

statement said.

The 11th Cebu Food Expo last July 22-24 showcased products, technology and services in different categories: food and beverage, bakery equipment and ingredients, confectionery, packaging and processing technology, franchising and business opportunities.

The expo aims to exceed last year’s on-site sales of more than P25 million.