Pickle Lady at Philfoodex

FLORDELIZA VALERIO showing her pickle

One  interesting person we met at the recent Philippine Food Exposition (Philfoodex) at the World Trade Center was a lady who specializes in making pickles out of locally available raw materials.

  
Her products are bestsellers because, as she claims, those who happen to taste her pickles always go back looking for more. She is Flordeliza Valerio, an enterprising businesswoman who had to do a lot of experiments to perfect her technique in coming up with quality pickles.
  
Her interest in making pickles started in 2006 after she was gifted with a bottle of singkamas pickle. She just took the bottled singkamas for granted and kept it in her refrigerator. After one year, she became curious about the singkamas pickle. She found out that the pickle was still crunchy and tasted very good.
  
From then on, she started her experiments to find out the best way to make pickles not only out of singkamas but also out of other materials like green mango, papaya, ampalaya and other vegetables.
  
Although she says that by 2008 she had not really perfected her pickling formula, she started marketing her products under her Delisha’s Homemade Atchara brand. The first encouraging word she got was from a medical doctor, Dr. Robert Ong. The doctor went back to tell her that her pickles were really good. That inspired her no end and she continued to pursue her pickle-making business.
  
She was further encouraged when a supplier of a big supermarket chain liked her products and made her a regular supplier. Now the fellow, Gary Aklan of Chorizo de Cebu, is buying from her 300 bottles of her pickles every week.
  
Soon the Department of Science and Technology noticed her interest in the pickling business. The DOST experts provided her valuable pointers on making her pickles. They taught her the value of sanitation, the use of high quality raw materials that have to be uniform in quality, the importance of on-time processing (the raw materials should be kept for a long time before processing). They also introduced to her mechanized operation like the use of a slicing machine, a mechanical grater and spinner.
  
She said the DOST has been very helpful in coming up with good quality packing and label design. The pickles are packed in high quality bottles containing 350 grams each and sold at P100 apiece.
  
Because of the equipment that DOST provided as a loan, her operation is much easier now and very systematic. She has come up with a system that works well for her business. Among the equipment that DOST provided worth P205,000 include a grater, cooking vat (for ampalaya), mechanical slicer and spinner (for draining water). She has five years to pay for these starting February 29, 2012.
  
The equipment are a big help, according to Flordeliza. For instance, when grating was done manually, her five workers took six hours to grate 50 kilos of green papaya. With the mechanical grater, it takes only 45 minutes now to grate 50 kilos of green papaya.
  
Floredliza’s pickles include ampalaya, singkamas, green papaya, sweet chili, eggplant, okra, cucumber, shallot, carabao and Indian mango. She is still experimenting on pickling kamias, yacon, santol, sitao and other vegetables. Each one has a different pickling solution without using any chemical as preservative.
  
Her operation is very systematic. She only pickles one kind in one day. For instance, she only pickles 50 kilos of ampalaya in one day and no other. She has to use first class fruits of the same variety, Galactica, to maintain uniform quality. The price of newly harvested ampalaya ranges from P40 to P65 per kilo. The 50 kilos would then range from P2,000 to P3,250. Add to that the cost of the pickling solution which includes small amounts of syrup, cane vinegar, refined sugar, bell pepper, hot pepper, iodized salt, garlic, ginger and shallot.
  
The 50 kilos of ampalaya will make about 200 bottles which are sold at P100 each, for a gross of P20,000. Of course you have to deduct from that the cost of raw materials, the pickling solutions, labor, packaging and marketing. Still it is a profitable proposition, according to Flordeliza. She estimates that the total cost of production is 70 percent of the selling price.
  
Flordeliza says that among her big buyers are Pasalubong Centers, Shopwise, Rustan’s, and others. She also regularly participates in food expositions and trade fairs. You can reach her at delisha’s2006@yahoo.com
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