Manila, Philippines

Popular Foodcart Businesses

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I find the food business enticing. Maybe because I love to eat. And there’s no doubt that Filipinos love to eat too. Particularly, right now, I am more on the lookout for foodcart business opportunities. Not yet too heavy in terms of operations, small enough for a beginner like me, but has the growth potential. Initial funding required is small enough too. Or that’s what I thought.

In 2007, I started to notice a siomai foodcart in a nearby mall. Every Sunday, after mass, I’d go there to buy siomai and I liked its taste and flavor. Even their garlic and chili is unique and tasty. I personally prefer the one from the house, compared to the siomai served by the king or the master. And that’s when I started to pay attention with the brand. There was no such food cart yet in Ayala MRT station, maybe not even in the other stations except in Cubao MRT where there was one back then. And so one afternoon, I asked one of the personnel how much it was to franchise the foodcart. She quoted Php80k to me. Not sure whether it was accurate or not but I could not afford Php80k back then (not even now actually to think that’s already cheap for foodcarts nowadays). Years passed, we alll know that the siomai craze has actually sustained itself, with all sorts of brands and carts sprouting here and there. In Cubao, there are now 3 foodcarts (or houses) of the siomai brand I prefer, and add to that at least 2 more of competing brands. In Ayala, there’s also one cart of my preferred brand where it’s usually box office, especially during MRT rush hours (actually even its master competitor). People actually line up to buy as if they’re in Jollibee. Again, my sources are unofficial but last time I heard, franchise fee for the house is now at Php240k. I wonder though how their margins are doing with all these sales.

The next one is a more recent discovery: empanada. I just discovered that I love empanadas for merienda, sometimes even for second breakfast or light dinner. I don’t have much information on its health / unhealthy benefits, all I know is that it’s deep fried, and all I care right now is that it’s delicious and filling. My favorite brand (under the foodcart category) is the special one in Ayala though I think there are yummy or royal competitors as well. I have yet to ask how much the franchise fee is as I don’t want to feel discouraged and small again. I just know that the ham and cheese and chicken variants are strong products. And if had the chance and location, empanada will be among my options. (I also love the empanadas of the colored ribbon by the way.)

My third best option right now is actually a drink business (palamig), with no particular brand or store name that stands out (there’s a lot of them actually everywhere). Basically, to sell palamig and gulaman. Buko, buko pandan, buko salad, fruit salad, pineapple, avocado, mango, ube, etc. All variants and colorful flavors / flavorings. For this one I don’t think start-up capital will be as high as the first two, but I’m wary with this one since its very prone to questions about health and sanitation, especially with the magic sugar issue surfacing, as other vendors (note not all) were found to have been using it. Or the water quality. Or the store appearance since it usually appears wet which can be misconstrued as dirty or not neat. Cost of raw materials are relatively cheap, easy to prepare, it’s just that some people really like to cut corners and use the controversial magic sugar instead of real sugar or tap water instead of at least purified if not distilled. And that hurts everybody, whether guilty or not. Anyway, these issues can be and should be addressed by the store owner, granted that he’s dead serious to grow (legally and healthily) the business.

Franchising can be advantageous since you can ride on with the brand name and its consumer recall, existing systems, secrets and practices, management support for training, finding location, relationship with suppliers, etc. But all these come with a price: franshise fees, royalty, you’re bound to the brand’s strategies and growth plans (though some ask suggestions and feedback from franchisee), etc.

Which makes me think, what if I just start my own: look for my own siomai supplier, cook my own siomai and empanada recipes, mix my own healthy and unique drinks. Look for kitchen equipment like steamer, fryer, drink containers. This can be a way forward for me but I haven’t even done the first step. I just blurted it out in this post. I have yet to move closer to starting the foodcart business since I’m foreseeing two obstacles already which I have yet to resolve: capital and location.

So I’m back in square one and I have been going in circles. Capital used to be concern back in 2007. It still is now.  I already have a notion of what I want to sell, but I don’t have  yet the ‘where’ to sell. Oh well, just sharing with you my dilemma as of the moment.
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