MANILA, Philippines - Mangoes in a museum, anyone? Using the current national tourism slogan, "It's more fun to eat mangoes in the Philippines,"or, "It's more fun in Cebu," to be more apt. And why not, when the Queen City of the South now has the first ever museum that exalts our national fruit?
Something to do in Cebu
In a monumental move to boost both local and national tourism, Profood International Corporation, the Philippines' largest producer and exporter of processed fruit products, recently opened its mango museum located at the Profood Compound along Maguikay Highway in this city. The P20-million, three-storey museum is geared towards drawing in more tourists to further cement Cebu's status as the dried mango capital of the world.
"With this gallery, the tourists will have something to do in Cebu and to know what Mandaue produces," said Profood president Justin Uy during the museum's ribbon-cutting and inaugural rites. "This is very important for us, because we will let the world know that the Philippines, especially, Mandaue, Cebu, is the place where dried mangoes originated from and is exported all over the world."
Partners in progress
Profood started with 10 employees in 1980 as a cottage industry that catered to the local market and has since grown to become the leading producer of various dried fruits, fruit preserves, purees, concentrates and juice brands. Its products are available all over the Philippines and exported to 40 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Oceania. The company makes them available at popular international chain stores such as Costco, Wal Mart, Sam's Club and Carrefour, to name a few. Profood is an ISO 9001:2008-, HACCP-, KOSHER-, HALAL-, and NSF-certified company.
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes lauds the opening of the Mango Museum by saying that it would stir economic growth in his city. "It's one way of promoting tourism in our beloved city. So, we're really privileged to have Profood in our city because for so long, we have considered them as our partners in progress by providing employment to our constituents, as well as showcasing the real identity of a Mandauehanon: industrious, creative and highly skilled," he said with pride.
Department of Tourism Region VII Director Rowena Montecilla praised Profood for bringing its products closer to both domestic and foreign tourists "It will be more exciting for tourists to know more about the product. This gallery will be both educational and enjoyable for them," she said. "We are not only going to promote this to one segment of the market. We would like to promote its product to the different markets that are visiting Cebu."
Aside from the museum itself which showcases the company's history and its various processes and products, the gallery includes an area for product sampling and a theater for audio-visual presentations and animation about the Philippine mango.
"Because the harvest of Philippine mangoes is seasonal, and the season varies in different areas, like March-June for Luzon, April-July in Visayas and November -January in Mindanao, we had set up processing plants and buying stations in strategic parts of the country, aside from the one here in Cebu. We have one each in Manila, Iloilo and Davao. This is to guarantee the supply of mango throughout the year," explained Profood operations manager Joven Uy.
The tour at the company's manufacturing premises took visitors to the receiving, ripening, washing, peeling, slicing, pasteurization, drying and packing sections.
"During unloading/receiving, we sort the mangoes, piece by piece but they are paid per weight," explained Uy. "For ripening, which takes three to four days, we sort the mangoes again. This is an all-natural process, as no chemical is used." Profood also takes pride in using its own processed sugar when it is time to put sugar powder coating after slicing and drying.
Profood's Cebu plant stands on a 16-hectare property. During peak season, Profood employs 6,000 people for production work; and off-peak, 2,500.
In the final packing stage, dried mangoes undergo both manual and automated sorting with the latter relying on a quality-assurance X-ray machine operating at an 18-20-degree room temperature, to ensure that only the best products get to the consumers.
The Profood Gallery will be initially opened to Koreans through travel packages, in partnership with Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa-Cebu, in which Uy's real estate firm, Everjust Realty Development Corp., is currently the majority shareholder. Song Sil Tour handles the gallery operations. For inquiries, contact Cherry Ann Monares at (032) 520-7007.