By Zac B. Sarian

Growers of organic farm produce are usually small scale operators who can’t afford to rent space in shopping malls where big crowds go to buy their various needs. But there’s a way that they can make their products available to the shoppers. One example is what SM City Bacolod has done. In December 2016, it set aside a 169-sq.m. space right beside the entrance to the mall. The area was awarded to Chin Chin Uy and his wife Francine who own the Fresh Start Organics, the company that specializes in organic produce like leafy greens and other varieties for salad. They also produce processed items like organic coffee, rice, coco sugar and others.

The Uy couple use a big portion of the space for a resto specializing in various salad preparations, pasta and various kinds of beverages and what they call booster shots. At the entrance of the restaurant is a display area for various processed organic food products that include chili sauces and flakes, muscovado sugar, coffee, chocolate tablea, turmeric powder, ginger powder, piyaya, honey, duhat wine, colored rice varieties, sinamak and more. They are supplied by about a hundred producers from the province.

Although operating for just over two years, the Fresh Start Organic restaurant has become a favorite eating place for health-conscious customers. The processed organic products are also selling very well, according to Chin Chin. In March 2019, gross sales amounted to about P1.5 million

The Uys are very happy because under the agreement, they don’t pay a fixed rental. Instead, SM gets 8% of the gross sales. Thus, last March 2019, SM got a share of about P120,000.

The setup is a big boost to small enterprises engaged in organic food production and processing. Now, they have an outlet for their products in a very strategic place.

This was originally published in Manila Bulletin’s Agriculture News section on April 27, 2019.