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June 27, 2017 by Angelo G. Garcia

Seafood distributor turns 20, eyes own retail shop.

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MANILA – This is probably the best time to be in food business, whether in production, distribution, or food service. This is due to the fact that in recent years, the local food industry has been growing steadily and consumption is at an all-time high.


A clear proof of this growth is the restaurants. International and local eateries are sprouting like mushrooms in the metro to the delight of hungry foodies and businessmen.

This is good news for suppliers of raw food ingredients like Mida Food, a distributor of premium fresh and frozen seafood.

“The growth has been amazing. It’s incredible. Not just because there are a lot of restaurants, but it’s the types of restaurants opening up. The average ticket price has also gone up so people are willing to pay for food and they’re more adventurous also. That’s also why the food industry has been so successful in recent years. We pride ourselves as having the largest variety of seafood,” said Mida president and CEO Enrique Valles.

The company is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the seafood industry. Mida is more known for its retail brand Pacific Bay, but majority of its business is still in seafood distribution. Some of its products include tuna, softshell crab, king crab, snow crab, salmon, lobster, shrimp, scallops, squid, octopus, bacalao, halibut, dory and cod.

Among its clients are fast food chains like Wendy’s, Tokyo Tokyo and Shakey’s, as well as high-end hotels and restaurants like Gallery Vask. It also supplies casual grilleries or ihaw-ihaw, which actually are Mida Food’s first customers.

Originally, Mida was a trading company that acted as agent for buyers of seafood, looking for suppliers abroad. In 1997, Mida had the opportunity of buying off cuts or byproducts of seafood in Indonesia like tuna jaw and tail, which happen to be items that Filipinos eat and serve at restaurants.

They first looked for a distributor to handle the job, but there was none at the time. So, they decided to distribute the seafood products themselves. The first batch was especially flown from Indonesia and sold to local grilleries.

“From all of those grilleries we realized there was a much broader market that we can do business with. So we started bringing in a large selection of seafood, like salmon, sea bass, high-end halibut. At that point in the Philippines, hotels were growing and people’s palates were getting more complex so it was a good time for us to enter. So volumes were moving, we started dealing a lot with hotels, high-end caterers. We became known as a supplier of all these high-end goods,” Valles said.

The company sources its seafood locally and internationally. Most shrimp products are sourced from the Visayas while its fastest moving product, the fresh salmon, comes all the way from Norway and Chile.


To celebrate its success in the business, Mida held a special luncheon at Gallery Vask with an all-seafood menu prepared by none other than chef Chele Gonzalez. The special lunch showcased the products of Mida Food, from halibut to shrimp to lobster.

The pass-around canapes were simple yet flavorful like the seared hamachi and the king crab meat with hollandaise sauce on crunchy brioche bread.

The first course was a small plate of aromatic tuna tartare with avocado and cilantro. It was followed by a playful and fresh second course, grilled tiger prawns with strawberry and watermelon gazpacho. The tiger prawns were cut into segments and slices of Iberico, and strawberry were placed in between the segments.

The third course was a delicate and flaky pan-fried halibut that was served with pork ragout and crispy Iberico ham chips. This was followed by a squid ink seafood risotto with pan seared scallops, steamed lobster tail and claw, asparagus ribbons and crispy parmesan tuiles.

The lunch ended with a fitting dessert — different textures of calamansi. It had various components like crumbled calamansi cake, calamansi ice cream and calamansi mousse. The tangy and citrusy dessert was refreshing and cleared the palate of any briny taste.

Although Mida already has its salmon bar at Marketplace by Rustan’s where it sells its fresh premium fish, the vision is to have an own retail store in the future. And according to Valles, they plan to expand their existing processing plant in Malate and cold storage facility in Pasig.

“We have a big retail vision. At some point we want to explore a brick and mortar retail store sort of like Santi’s but for seafood, like a high-end fishmonger. Half of that space we want to have dining involved. We also want to be fully integrated and we know the processing plant we currently operate in Malate is far too small for our requirements. We’re looking for a place, just at the outskirts of Metro Manila to scale up our operations to better serve our customers,” he explained.

June 06, 2017 by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo

Mida Sees 20% Hike In Sales For 2017

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Enrique Valles, President and CEO of Mida Food Distributors, sees a 20% increase in sales due to the expansion of the food and restaurant industry as well as a growing consumer trend toward healthier diets. (photo courtesy Bridges)

By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror

PIONEERING seafood importer and distributor Mida Food Distributors sees higher sales this year on the back of increased demand for frozen seafood products and consumer trends toward healthier eating.

Mida President and CEO  Enrique Valles told the BusinessMirror that “our topline growth [for 2017] is 20 percent year-on-year”.

He added the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) agreements that lower the tariffs on a multitude of products have enabled the company to bring in more seafood to the country. “Afta has helped ease the process of importing and delivering [products] to our customers at better prices,” he said.

He added Mida “supplies all five-star hotels and white-linen restaurants in the Metro, as well as grilleries, fast-food chains and stand-alones. Our client list is varied because we offer products that accommodate differing client needs. We have the capability to produce bespoke products to match client requirements.

We believe in personalized service and have dedicated account managers and business development managers to handle our clients needs.”

Among the fast-food establishments the company supplies are Shakey’s (scallops for its scallops pizza), Tokyo Tokyo (shrimps for ebi tempura) and Wendy’s (fish for fish fillet burger), to name a few.

Valles said most of their products are imported, “although we buy local shrimp and tuna as much as possible, depending on the season and price”.

Mida celebrated its 20th anniversary as a leader in the Philippines seafood business by hosting a special lunch for media at Gallery Vask in Taguig City, showcasing the company’s various product lines and its growth through the years.

The company started off as a distributor of tuna products, but the business soon expanded, offering premium seafood items including Chilean seabass and salmon, as well as soft-shell crab, lobster, shrimp, squid, octopus, bacalao, halibut, dory, scallops, mussels and more. It now retails these in major supermarkets under the Pacific Bay brand.

Valles admits, though, that the company’s biggest challenge is meeting the expectations of its clients for high-quality seafood at value price points. “Our biggest challenge moving forward is, as our customer base grows as well as the food industry in general, diners look for greater value on the menu and, in exchange, our customers demand for better pricing. The balance of being able to provide these additional discounts, managing cashflow and being able to supply greater volumes to offset gross margin decline is the key to our success,” he stressed.

Mida has also been instrumental in reviving the local aquaculture industry, considering the prawns industry had already declined from its high-growth years in the 1980s and 1990s. The Philippines used to be among the top exporters of prawns to the world, however, negligent and unsanitary culture activities led to the near-death of the industry.

“As volumes [of demand for shrimp] grew, we started legislating for the ban on vannamei shrimp [white shrimp] to be lifted,” Valles noted. The Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had suspended the importation of live species of the vannamei in 2013 to protect the local shrimp industry from being infected with a virus that had affected the shrimp industries of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Indonesia.

“Lifting the ban on importation of the vannamei shrimp, and its subsequent culture would help grow the aquaculture industry. We won this case in the end,” he said.

In fact, the local culture of vannamei shrimp has been successful that the Philippines now exports over 60 50-foot container vans of vannamei shrimp every month. The Mida official also said the growth of the company could also be attributed to its close collaboration with its clients. Its services include menu development, customization of products, as well as training on food safety, among others. “Through research and development, as well as client intimacy, we’ve gained a reputation in the market as a seafood expert,” he said.


June 06, 2017 by Elisabeth Fischer

Women in Seafood: Expertise Has No Gender

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One Asian seafood exec has some strong advice for aspiring female leaders in the seafood industry. 

After 27 years in the seafood industry, Chingling Tanco knows her way around in the sector -- and has some strong advice for aspiring female future leaders: you can only win with knowledge and expertise.

Having built a business with Philippines-based seafood brokerage Mida Trade Ventures International and importer and distributor Mida Food Distributors, in which she is both the managing director and a major shareholder, Tanco knows that the industry is facing difficulties attracting young female talent into the sector

       "It's not a glamorous job," she told IntraFish. "The perception is that you have to be out at the plants a lot, looking at fish. It's not an attractive industry and it takes a certain type of personality."

IntraFish Women in Seafood Leadership Summit puts careers, challenges and social impact in spotlight

Recounting her early days in the industry, Tanco said she was lucky enough to have met people who were passionate about their job -- which ignited something in her.  

        "For me it was a build-up of opportunities," she said. "I continued to meet people who were willing to teach me what they loved doing."

Tanco said she doesn't know if being a woman -- especially in Asia -- makes a difference in the sector. "A personality of passion about what you do has no gender," she said. 

Her advice to aspiring female leaders is simple. 

        "Just try and learn as much as you can about what you're doing and just love it," she said. "Learn and get some expertise because that always gets you in the door. Learn the product, love seafood and build on that."

Tanco believes the industry will be growing in the future, which means women will have to play a bigger role in taking over management roles in the future. 

         "There might be more profitable sectors but it has an immense diversity," something that should lure more females into the sector, she added. 

"Once it gets into your systems it sticks with you. To me the key is expertise and real curiosity and not that I'm a woman," she told IntraFish. "That's the traction and that has no gender."


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