20 Small Food Business Ideas with Small Capital in the Philippines


Reports of the death of the food retail industry have been greatly exaggerated. The retail food business continues to thrive in the Philippines. While the industry remains competitive, your approach must be different. Focus on food concepts that have a ready market, favorable food cost and do not require large startup capital.

Here are 20 Philippines small food ideas with small capital requirement:

1. Hamburgers

Hamburgers remain the most popular food item in the Philippines, and it is easy to understand why.

  • You can eat it as a main meal or a snack
  • Hamburgers best represent our taste for American food
  • You can have it in a variety of ways and a number of flavors

As a business, hamburgers can be a high-profit venture. Take a look at the food cost if I were to make a hamburger at home:

Cost of 140 grams Patty: 25.9 Pesos per 140 grams (raw)

Hamburger Buns: 5 Pesos per piece

Seasonings (30 grams): 5 Pesos

Total Cost: 35.90

Suggested Retail Price: 90 Pesos

Profit Margin: 39.8%

The best hamburgers are not grilled; they’re pan-fried on a flat griddle because they cook in their juices.

If you plan your service properly, you could generate high volume because burgers can be cooked within 5 minutes. The hamburgers can be packaged in wax paper.

You will only need two assistants. The second one will come in only during peak hours.

The price for the raw patty is based on the current retail price of 185 pesos per kilo. If you buy wholesale, you can lower the price by 20% and improve your profit margin by 6%!

Hamburgers are one of the best small food business ideas!

Related: Top 10 Online Food Business Ideas in the Philippines

2. Fried Chicken and Rice

Fried Chicken is a close second to hamburgers as the most popular food item in the Philippines. It is another viable small food business idea.

As a business, it also presents an opportunity to make a good profit. Here is the food cost for a one-piece chicken meal with rice:

Cost of One Piece Chicken: 18.50 Pesos

Breading: 5 Pesos per piece

Condiments (30 grams): 5 Pesos

Rice (100 grams): 5 Pesos

Total Food Cost: 33.50 Pesos

Suggested Retail Price: 85 Pesos

Profit Margin: 39.4%

You do not need a deep fryer to cook the chicken. A cast iron pot works the best. You can re-use the oil but filter it every night.

If you want to serve fried chicken fast but crispy, pre-fry it under low-medium heat for 5 minutes. Set it aside. Once a line starts forming, fry upon order on high heat.

You’ll have juicy, crispy fried chicken served every 5 minutes! Your turnover will be fast and volume will be high.

3. Hotdog Stand

The good thing about hotdogs, aside from being a low food cost item, is that you can serve it a variety of ways:

  • As a sandwich
  • With rice
  • On a stick
  • As a corndog

Like the hamburger, you can have a hotdog with a meal or as a snack. You can either steam the hotdog or pan fry it.

4. Flavored French Fries

French fries are a very popular snack. I’m surprised there aren’t many French fries proprietors considering this offers excellent profit margins.

Many of the French fries proprietors I’ve spoken to have their materials imported from Australia. The potatoes are delivered frozen. In fact, you can buy these brands at your local supermarket.

But you can make better French fries from scratch!

All you need are Russet Burbank potatoes which you can readily find in supermarkets. Here’s how you can French fries at home:

  • Slice the potatoes into any style you want; julienne is the standard. You can buy table mounted potato slicers for US$ 60. Instant julienne-cut potatoes with one stroke!
  • Soak them in water overnight to remove excess starches (the secret to making them crispy).
  • Fry them for 5 minutes under low to medium heat; set them aside.
  • When there is an order, fry under high heat and serve when golden brown.
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Do you want fries like Iron Chef Bobby Flay? Add chili powder.

The food cost is so much lower! That’s why in fine dining restaurants, chefs prefer to cook fries from scratch.

You don’t need a deep fryer. A deep pan or a Wok would do. I shake my head whenever I hear a fast food manager tell me their fries are expertly cooked because the fryer has a computer.

You don’t need a computer to tell you if your fries are cooked. You just need a good set of eyes!

5. Coffee Stand

There are many ways to have a coffee stand business:

  • Sign up with a supplier of a coffee vending machine
  • Sell packets of instant coffee
  • Brew your coffee

I see many homeowners whose houses are located on the main road convert their ground floor into coffee shops. It is a good, low-cost venture for the following reasons:

  • Food cost of coffee is very low. Coffee retailers sign a supply contract with importers and can buy their materials at greatly discounted prices.
  • Percentage of food wastage is very low. If properly stored, coffee beans will last a long time. Condiments can be pre-packed and stored easily.
  • Although the cost of an espresso maker is high, some suppliers will agree on a lease to own arrangement. You can pay them out from your sales.
  • You can serve cakes and pastries on consignment. One of my friends consigns his cakes with a popular coffee franchise. The coffee shop only pays him for what is sold.

The only problem with a coffee business is low turnover. People tend to nurse their coffee for hours especially if you have wifi.

6. Soft Serve Ice Cream

Soft Serve ice cream is just powdered mix and water. The cost of mixture averages 2.5 Pesos to 5 Pesos per serving. Suppliers will give you a good discount depending on the volume of orders.

Waffle cones will not cost you more than 5 Pesos. If you want to improve your profit margin, make the waffle cones yourself.

So the convenience stores which sell soft serve ice cream for 15 Pesos to 25 Pesos are doing good business!

The Soft Serve Maker is very expensive. But you can enter into a payment agreement with the supplier.


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