Filipino food moves mainstream as grocery chain plans Canadian expansion

TORONTO -- A large Filipino grocery chain will open its first Canadian store near Toronto early next year, one of several planned markets catering to the country's growing Filipino population while also aiming to turn others onto international cuisine.

See Full Article

"Whatever culture you belong to, everybody eats seafood," Mildred Smith, the marketing manager for Seafood City Supermarket, said in a recent interview.

Seafood City Supermarket stocks staple pantry goods and fresh ingredients for cooking Filipino and pan-Asian dishes. It already boasts 22 American locations along the West Coast and Hawaii, and Canadian visitors have often pleaded for a store north of the 49th parallel, Smith said.

That's now in the works with a store opening at Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga, Ont., in the first quarter of 2017. The Canadian Seafood City Supermarket will include a Grill City, a Filipino barbecue fast-food joint, and a Crispy Town, which sells fried Filipino snack food.

Seafood City Supermarket primarily targets communities with a large Filipino population, said Smith, so Canada made good business sense.

In 2011, more than 662,000 Filipino people lived in Canada, according to Statistics Canada's 2011 national household survey, making up about five per cent of the country's population. In 2014, the Philippines pushed ahead of China and India as Canada's top source country for immigrants, according to the federal agency.

The Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver are home to the largest Filipino communities in Canada.

Seafood City Supermarket considered both cities, said Smith, but found the perfect storefront in Mississauga -- though she adds a future Vancouver spot is not out of the question.

Non-Filipino people who are increasingly exposed to the country's cuisine, as they are in the GTA and Vancouver, are another target customer base for the company.

"Filipinos love food and parties," said Smith. So their friends of other nationalities have likely already sampled adobo, kare-kare or other Filipino dinner staples, she said.

The company expects that growing interest in Filipino food will pay off at its Mississauga location.

Thrusting the cuisine into the mainstream is the mission of Les Sabilano, the co-owner of Lamesa Filipino Kitchen in Toronto's trendy Queen West neighbourhood.

His restaurant has been serving classic Filipino dishes with a modern twist -- think chicken adobo, but fused with the Argentinian flavours of chimichurri -- since 2014.

Lamesa, he said, started as a response to a need of second-generation Filipino-Canadians, who want to share their culture with their friends of other ethnicities.

"In my parents' generation, you know, there were take-out spots and grocery places that were around that served the Filipino community," said Sabilano, whose family owns two such establishments in the city.

"But really (they) made no attempt to share the food or culture with non-Filipinos," he said. "I think there is a growing need for ... restaurants that are geared not only for the Filipino community."

At least half of Lamesa's customers, he said, aren't Filipino.

Later this year, Sabilano will take over Kaibigan, one of his family's traditional Filipino grocery store and restaurant spots. He plans to revamp the concept for a North American customer base by making Filipino food fresh to order using fresh, local ingredients.

Another Filipino fast food chain, Jollibee, will reportedly open its first Canadian location this year or next. The comfort food giant operates more than 750 stores in the Philippines serving burgers, noodles and rice meals. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

As Filipino dine-in or take-out options continue to grow, Sabilano hopes the cuisine will be among the options when friends and families debate what type of food to have for dinner.

"Thai? Japanese? Chinese? You want to go for fried chicken?" Sabilano said. "I'd like for Filipino food to become part of that conversation."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Italian PM 'guarantees' savers' accounts in 2 troubled banks

    Economic CTV News
    ROME -- Italy's premier says holders of accounts in two troubled Italian banks will have their savings guaranteed despite insolvency proceedings. Premier Paolo Gentiloni was referring to Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, each struggling with unpaid loans. Source
  • Forget the poop scooping: who will pay the bills for your pet?

    Economic CBC News
    The scene is so common, it's cliché: Your adorable child looks longingly into your eyes, begging for a pet. You somehow navigate the emotionally fraught minefield of cat vs. dog. Then it's time to talk chores. Source
  • 'Eventually, many will run out': How an LCBO strike could impact restaurants and bars

    Economic CBC News
    A long drawn-out strike by liquor store workers could have a significant impact on Ontario's restaurants, wine importers, bars and consumers — but it may offer a boon to some local wineries. "Eventually, many [restaurants and bars] will run out, if not all, if it goes into a month, two months," said Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association. Source
  • Ivanka Trump ordered to testify in dispute with shoe company

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Ivanka Trump must testify in a dispute with an Italian shoemaker over one of her company's shoe designs, a judge said Friday. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest rejected a request by the senior White House aide's lawyers that she be blocked from submitting to a deposition in the trademark infringement lawsuit brought by Aquazzura Italia SRL against her and her company IT Collection LLC. Source
  • Cooling measures already affecting hot Toronto housing market: survey

    Economic CTV News
    The recent intervention by the Ontario government to cool the Toronto-area’s hot housing market is already having an impact on sellers and buyers plans for the year, according to a new poll. At the end of April, Ont. Source
  • Why is the American teen summer job disappearing? [Video]

    Economic Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie “The Shining,” where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheque. He was a busboy. The job didn’t pay much. But Doyle quickly learned lessons that served him for years as he rose to become the CEO of Domino’s, the pizza delivery giant: Source
  • Waiting for a Canadian housing crash? Warren Buffet bets against it buying 38% stake in Home Capital Group Inc.

    Economic Toronto Sun
    Warren Buffett's deal to back Home Capital Group Inc. does more than support a struggling mortgage lender -- it's a vote of confidence for a housing market that everyone from investors to global ratings companies say is a bubble ready to burst. Source
  • CIBC looks to generate quarter of earnings from U.S.

    Economic CBC News
    CIBC closed its acquisition of Chicago-based PrivateBancorp on Friday, securing its foothold in the U.S. where CEO Victor Dodig said the bank hopes to one day generate a quarter of its earnings. The Canadian bank now earns roughly five per cent of its profits in the U.S. Source
  • CIBC closes acquisition of U.S.-based PrivateBancorp

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- CIBC closed its acquisition of Chicago-based PrivateBancorp on Friday, securing its foothold in the U.S. where CEO Victor Dodig said the bank hopes to one day generate a quarter of its earnings. The Canadian bank (TSX:CM) now earns roughly five per cent of its profits in the U.S. Source
  • Consumer demand for debt as high as it has ever been, Equifax says

    Economic CBC News
    Canadians' appetite for debt is as insatiable as ever, a new report from credit monitoring firm Equifax says. Equifax calculates that Canadian consumers owed $1.729 trillion at the end of the first quarter, an increase of 6.9 per cent in a year. Source