Top 10 Online Food Business Ideas in the Philippines


If you are an aspiring entrepreneur thinking about the best online food business ideas in the Philippines, you are on the right track!

The food retail business continues to thrive in the Philippines simply because there is a steady market of consumers who love to eat out or order in. You’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant or fast food chain inside a mall with an available table from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. But looks can be deceiving.

Having been involved in the retail food business for ten years I can tell you this paradox can define the industry:

A restaurant that is packed to the rafters every day does not mean it is making money.

It may look like the cash register is ringing off the hook but you’ll be surprised how much is left after all deductions have been factored in. Food cost alone can be brutal. Many fast food restaurants average 50% to 60% food cost. This is because the Philippines is a net importer of raw materials. Proprietors are also hesitant to increase menu prices in a market that are price sensitive.

Thus, assuming you sell a hamburger for 100 Pesos, 50 to 60 pesos will go to your supplier, service crew and to pay for utilities. You have 40 pesos left. Do you think it will go to your bank account? No. Because you still have to pay taxes, employee benefits, maintenance, monthly dues, and rent.

Now you know why you cannot get many food choices inside a mall. The only ones that survive are those that have multiple branches because sales volume can offset depressingly low-profit margins.

If you want to have a career in the food retail industry, open your mind and understand that it’s not just about selling food inside a mall. Food Retail is an industry that is extensive and deep in scope and magnitude. You can retail your creations or your expertise. You do not have to be a trained chef or experienced cook to be in the food retail business.

And you do not have to set up a brick-and-mortar establishment.

In fact, the best recourse is to go online where the risks can be managed; conditions are ideal for maintaining quality and business modeling is more flexible.

Related: 33 Best Online Business Ideas in the Philippines 2016

There are many other options to consider when planning an online food-related business. Here are my top 10 online food business ideas in the Philippines.

1. Food Delivery Service

Let’s start with the obvious! If you have a deep-rooted passion for food and want to share your culinary talent to the market, get your baptism in food retail via a delivery service.

Costs are lower, but you need to capitalize the business. Initial investment should cover the e-commerce website and larger scale cooking equipment.

I estimate you would need 100,000 pesos including minor leasehold improvement to capitalize the business. But you should be able to recover your investment because your margins should be better. The delivery rider can be outsourced.

Here’s a good tip: if you want to maintain quality, prepare a fixed amount of food per day. This makes it easier to plan the production schedule.

How do you pull this off? Use your website!

For example, if you are selling burgers, your Home Page copy should read, “We only cook 100 burgers for lunch. First order, first served!” Then have a countdown feature which starts at “100”.

Every order that is confirmed reduces the number of available burgers until it reaches “0.”  When the target of 100 burgers has been reached, this message will appear on the Home Page, “Sorry! Burgers are SOLD OUT! Please try again tomorrow.”

This approach not only ensures food quality but creates demand for your product and will help you reach your quota.

2. Personal Chef

As a Personal Chef, you will cater to the higher income market. They will have little aversion to the cost of your food as long as it delivers on its promise of quality. Thus, your profit margins should be good.

Usually, the moneyed class looks for healthier food options because there are hardly any proprietors in the market. These are the consumers who want to follow diet protocols or nutrition plans strictly as prescribed by their Personal Trainers or nutritionists.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen successful online proprietors who offer specialized food items that follow low carbohydrate protocols such as “The South Beach Diet” and “Paleo.”

The menu on your website should include complete nutritional information on calorie content, portion sizes and accurate macronutrient breakdown. If you are targeting the health food market, include a blog page with rich content on exercise, general wellness, and nutrition.

3. Online Cooking School

If you are a trained professional chef, you can consider offering cooking lessons online. Here are just a few ideas you can use for your website:

  • Specialized online instruction:
  • One-on-one
  • Classroom setting
  • Instructional videos:
  • How to prepare everyday dishes
  • How to prepare fine-dining meals
  • How to plan for a party
  • How to cater for a large gathering
  • Featured chef/ personality
  • Archive of recipes
  • Cooking tips and techniques
  • Blogs on food related articles

You will need to hire a few chefs to handle the specialized online instruction if the number of enrollees has become difficult to manage. You can have different rates per package:

  • One-on-one: $20 per hour
  • Classroom (minimum of 5 students): $5 per hour

You can also put up an e-commerce page where you sell the products and equipment you use in the videos. You can also sell merchandise such as books, t-shirts, cooking planners, chef’s hats, aprons and other items that will help develop your brand.

4. Online Food Reviewer

Aren’t we all food critics by nature? Social media has given everyone a platform to post their opinions on the best and worst restaurants in the market. On my Facebook page, I regularly come across posts from friends who regularly share their best and worst food experiences.

I tend to patronize the recommendations of those who know how to word their experiences. A post that says “Best Shawarma in Manila” isn’t going to get me riled up.

But a post that says, “Best Shawarma I ever had! Generously packed with perfectly roasted beef that is sliced only upon order; the Shawarma is so big and juicy you need both hands and a pack of napkins! Best value for money at only 100 pesos!”

An online review is like a blog; it must have sizeable content of at least 1,600 words and accompanied with high-resolution images. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a cook, chef or celebrity to be a food reviewer.

To become a credible food reviewer, you should have these qualities:

  • Be a good writer. Don’t write in a technical manner. Instead, be conversational.
  • Be honest and fair. Don’t be swayed by popular opinion.
  • Be thorough. A good food review includes feedback on ambiance, cleanliness, quality of service, presentation, observation on crowd activity, accessibility and pricing, not just food quality.
  • Be professional. Even if you didn’t like the experience, tone down the emotional rhetoric and stick to the issues. This is a food review, not a rant.

Finally, be incognito. If restaurants recognize you, they will take steps to make sure your experience would be great.

If your food blog gains traction, you can generate income from ads and other placements.

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