Cebuano delicacy maker enters overseas market

·3 min read

A NEW Cebuano delicacy brand is now making waves overseas.

Entrepreneur Charo Gutierrez-Barro, chief executive officer of CGB Foods, has recently brought The Bastaps’ best-selling products like otap, rosquillos and galletas, among others, to countries with a large Filipino footprint like the United States and New Zealand, and soon, Canada.

“I was amazed by the culinary craftsmanship of our local bakers who are baking all the native delicacies by hand and whose skills and techniques date back hundreds of years. Their dedication to the craft motivated me to put Carmen’s best on the map,” said Barro.

Barro founded The Bastap in Luyang, Carmen in 2012, after a local businessman in Carmen sold his eatery and bakery to her and her business partner.

“It has always been known as a rest area for travelers coming from and going to northern Cebu. To make it simple and easy to remember, I renamed the area as The Bastap,” she said.

Barro said since she took over the business and invested in a lot of improvements, The Bastap has attracted a lot of clients such as buses and vans that bring their passengers to rest and dine as well as private vehicles that stop by the area to buy pasalubong (souvenirs) and rest a bit after a long drive.

The Bastap, according to Barro, is also the biggest stopover in the area that is operating 24/7 and employing close to a hundred employees.

Seeing the boom in travel pre-pandemic, Barro and her team began brainstorming on how to bring The Bastap to the next level. She is convinced that the business has more to offer and has the big potential to grow big outside Carmen.

Products

Tapping the excellent baking skills of her trusted staff, Barro threw the idea of commercializing their homemade native delicacies with the vision of penetrating the export market. They spent months for product development until they were able to come up with a new look and quality that can now compete with the other brands on the market shelves.

Among its products are otap, rosquillos, galletas de bastap, eggnog, patatas and huevos.

Like any other business battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, The Bastap was forced to stop operations for two months last year due to travel restrictions. Barro said the temporary setback did not dampen their spirits. Instead, they continued with their usual efforts anticipating the resumption of travel and reopening of the economy.

“I focused on improving the place and adding value to the food dining experience for our customers,” she said.

Expansion

Instead of giving in to fear, Barro took a leap of faith amid the pandemic and brought The Bastap products to Cebu City by opening The Bastap Hub at the second floor of Piazza Elisea in Talamban, after nine years of operating only in Carmen. The hub serves as the pick-up point of all orders across the country and abroad.

The Bastap also launched its own e-commerce site named thebastap.com to reach a wider customer base and for customers to conveniently order online.

“People don’t need to go to Carmen to enjoy our products. We are making our traditionally made delicacies available online so anyone who’s craving for them can order anytime, anywhere. We don’t want our native delicacy lovers to get stopped by the pandemic,” she said.

“The Bastap believes that for the good of our customers, employees and economy, nothing should stop us,” she added, of her bold move to expand the business amid the difficult times.

The Bastap products are also available in other online shopping sites like Lazada and Shopee.

“I firmly believe that this pandemic is just temporary and we will all bounce back. What we are doing for The Bastap now is our way of preparing for the full market rebound,” she said.

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