THE governent expects to sign over P10.5 billion or $551.2 million worth of export and domestic orders at the upcoming International Food Exhibition (IFEX) Philippines later this month.

In a statement Thursday, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) said more than 2,000 international and local buyers have signed up for the country’s largest business-to-business food event where some 657 food exhibitors will participate.

“Excitement is mounting for the newly-rebranded IFEX Philippines NXTFOOD ASIA with all its fresh show features and special activities for trade buyers and visitors coming from different parts of the globe,” CITEM Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan was quoted as saying.

“We expect this escalating level of interest and enthusiasm will translate to a higher sales turnout for our international and local exhibitors,” she added.

IFEX is a three-day international trade exhibition that opens May 24 and will showcase Asia’s top food products.

This year’s target is higher than the $256 million worth of export and domestic sales generated at the previous IFEX where 513 international and local exhibitors participated.

Among the 10 product sectors in last year’s event, natural and organic products emerged as the best-selling category, generating $29.9 million worth of sales. It was followed by fine food and specialties at $29 million; fresh and processed fruits and vegetables at $22.6 million; grains and cereals at $12.9 million; and beverages at $8.55 million.

The top 10 countries of origin for international buyers at the upcoming event are the United States, United Arab Emirates, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Qatar.

Ms. Suaco-Juan said CITEM has also strengthened its Very Important Buyers (VIB) program which offers a package of services and benefits to attract international buyers, including retailers, wholesalers, specialty store owners, importers, buying agents, hoteliers and restaurateurs.

“We are also expecting big buyer delegations to check out the latest offering of Philippine and Asian food in IFEX Philippines such as the chocolate buying missions from Belgium and San Francisco, Shanghai firms as well as the group from Guangdong International Food Association,” she added. — Janina C. Lim