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Holiday sari-sari store purchases topped by items associated with frying food

PRODUCTS associated with frying food were the top items purchased during the holidays from neighborhood retailers, known as sari-sari stores, according to a study released by technology startup Packworks and sociocultural research firm Fourth Wall.

The study, of data collected between Dec. 1 and 14, indicated that packaged sauce was the fastest-growing, up 8% from a year earlier. Breading and coating mixes grew 7%, the study found.

Posting 5% growth was cooking oil.

”Our statistical analysis shows that only the products related to fried food are the ones that experienced significant growth between 2021 and 2022,” the report found.

John Brylle L. Bae, research director for Fourth Wall, said Filipinos are a “sawsawan culture,” referring to the dipping sauces accompanying many meals.

“Filipinos prefer fried foods because of its association with sawsawan… The sawsawan culture epitomizes the communal nature of eating — (it’s) more than just consuming good food, but forging long-lasting connections,” he said.

Reporting mixed growth were items associated with preparing fruit salad, a staple of many holiday celebrations, with evaporated milk purchases up 2% year on year, while purchases of condensed milk fell 1%; all-purpose cream purchases declined 11% while canned fruit purchases plunged 16%.

Demand for sugar and seasoning also declined. Sugar purchases fell 9% while those of seasoning declined 33%. The report said the declines in these categories were due to a growing health consciousness in the public as well as high prices.

“Our analysis further suggests that during holiday season, Filipinos are willing to forgo salads and sweets, but they struggle to let go of fried foods. The aversion to sugars and salads comes from high inflation, growing concerns about diabetes, and increasing health consciousness. Meanwhile, the propensity for fried foods comes from practical considerations (convenient and economical) but also from a much deeper sociocultural consideration,” Mr. Bae added.

Packworks develops a B2B app targeted at micro-retailers, which helps them keep track of their inventory and sales. It claims to have connected 110,000 sari-sari stores. — Ashley Erika O. Jose