Filipino Gourmet Goods on Swiss Shelves
Cattleya Romero-Faude’s SAGANÀ had won the 2014 Zurich edition of the Social Impact Award (SIA) when I first met her. On my second interview with her, I get to find out how the first Filipino-owned premium Swiss brand has been doing since. “My sister and I wanted to fulfill a dream to have our own ‘responsible business with a conscience’,” says entrepreneur Cattleya. “As we grow, our farmers grow,” she says, adding that she sought to establish long-term partnerships with like-minded coconut blossom farmers. With Cattleya’s degree in international business and her sister, Sheila, majoring in export management, SAGANÀ has sound theory as a springboard. “But it is a huge step from theory to practice,” Cattleya says. Today, SAGANÀ has expanded to include 100% organic coconut butter and vegan spreads, 100% wholegrain rice varieties and premium Pili nuts, besides their flagship product, the award-winning 100% coconut blossom nectar. The SAGANÀ Coconut Sweetener won two stars at Great Taste 2019 in UK for its authentic flavour and fine texture. This inspiring entrepreneur is putting Filipino gourmet goods onto Swiss shelves, and RAW wanted to find out more about SAGANÀ. What is SAGANÀ? SAGANÀ® means ‘abundance’ in Filipino, and we have chosen abundant, sustainable ingredients to develop healthier alternative food products that are delicious, nutritious and ethical. SAGANÀ’s flagship product is coconut blossom nectar—an artisanal 100% natural sweetener in powder and liquid forms. SAGANÀ® is the first Swiss-Filipino, purpose-driven premium brand built from the ground up to enter the Swiss market. What highs and lows has SAGANÀ faced since beginning? SAGANÀ, for one, has given Filipino rice farmers a fighting chance amid vast volumes from competitors importing into the Philippines. Developing our vegan spreads from roasted coconuts had METRO selecting us under the NX Food Accelerator program in late 2019—we could then market-test in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. These were high moments. SAGANÀ also just won one star at the Great Taste UK 2020 for the roasted coconut spread! We’re excited about this. On the other hand, working with grassroots initiatives in the Philippines was challenging due to compliance needs with international requirements on food safety, hygiene and quality. What has 2020 been like for SAGANÀ? It was looking promising for SAGANÀ as we set to explore foreign markets and pilot partnerships. But when CoVid took over, the Gulfood Startup Programme in Dubai (to which we had been invited) and fairs in Switzerland and the EU were cancelled. Our goods arrived in Switzerland three months later than expected. As a solution, we shifted to online sales and engaging customers through social media. We chose to distribute Mount Mayon Pili Nuts in Switzerland and teamed up with mydio.com to support mangrove rehabilitation in the Philippines. The Great Taste Supreme Champion 2018 Mount Mayon Pili Nuts are vitamin-E rich and endemic to the Philippines. Purchasing this product means supporting small-scale pili nut farmers. We also worked on our Philippine business permits so Filipinos back home could discover SAGANÀ. Our Salted Coconut Spread is finally available online at O-superstore.com and accepts Metro Manila deliveries. How do we purchase items for Xmas? Our SAGANÀ coconut sweetener is available throughout Switzerland at all Manor Supermarkets. All our other products are available in the Swiss and EU region through or e-shop, sagana.org. We also offer Christmas bundles and e-gift cards, available in Switzerland and the EU. RAW readers can discover more about SAGANÀ through our webpage or social media accounts: on Facebook: @Saganathehealthieralternative on Instagram: @sagana_ch. What is next for SAGANÀ in 2021? It feels like we’re starting all over again because of the impact of CoVid on small businesses like ours. I will press on as I enjoy what I’m doing and value the positive impact of SAGANÀ. I hope for SAGANÀ's success in entering the Philippines, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Middle East markets through trusted distribution partners. May we have more purpose-driven collaborations that benefit everyone involved, despite much being on hold until the pandemic situation improves.