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El Presidente’s delivers his backyard suka to the world

By: - Senior Reporter / @agarciayapCDN
08:32 AM March 12, 2012

It started as a personal concoction of vinegar that they serve to their customers in their Tisoy’s diner in 2004. And now, it has become known as a Filipino brand of 100 percent natural vinegar.
Ramon Fernandez or “El Presidente” as what he is fondly called back in his PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) glory days, concocted the vinegar together with his wife Karla in 2004.
It was then called “Suka ni Tisoy” by his friends and customers.
Being both a “probinsyano” by heart, Ramon and Karla love to prepare their own food and experiment on the right concoction of vinegar with spices and flavors to  complement their dishes.
“It really started when we were in our house in Argao. And we learned about the little income that our caretaker’s husband earns from the coconut nectar making it rather difficult to earn enough for his family. We then agreed to buy the coconut nectar from him at double the price that he used to sell it,” said Fernandez.
With an investment of about P150,000, the couple then bought the needed equipment to produce the vinegar.
“It took us at least six months to experiment on the vinegar. Using different spices, studying the best number of days to ferment the nectar and all that,” said Fernandez.
At first, the backyard venture was just to compliment the couple’s Tisoy diner and for them to have the healthiest vinegar for their personal use. They never expected it that it would turn out as a major business.
Over time, Karla’s passion for creativity kicked in and she eventually made the vinegar as gifts to their friends during special occasions.
“Even if I’ve somehow perfected my vinegar blend, I must say that it reached its ‘celebrity status’ because of how Karla packaged it,” said Fernandez.
Four years after it was developed and perfected, the couple’s vinegar became popular to a lot of people that a major exporter took notice of it.
The exporter, Justin Uy, president of Profood International Corp., forged a partnership with the couple in 2008 to become the vinegar’s exclusive manufacturer and distributor.
Profoods International Corp. is known globally with presence in 45 countries around the world.
“We started with the gathering of more raw products which is the coconut nectar. Then processing it according to the standards of Profoods, and then developing the packaging and the brand name,” Fernandez said.
From being called “Suka ni Tisoy” it is now branded as “Suka ni El Presidente” because according to Fernandez, he is known as Tisoy in Cebu but nationwide, he is known as “El Presidente.”
The change in name was made because the product was also being positioned to become a major national brand.
Suka ni El Presidente has now started to reach international markets since the opening of 2012 when Profoods officially started to release the first batch of bottles of the vinegar in the different retail chains around the world.
“We are now in California, Nevada, Seattle and Hawaii and we are excited to be in many more retail chains in other countries that Profoods is present,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez said that he was happy that the success of  the vinegar blend had helped in providing better livelihood opportunities for the local nectar harvesters or “mananangot” in Cebuano.
“We are currently sourcing locally from Argao as of the moment. And we expect to increase production especially with the entrance of more markets. We will be looking to also tap other manananggot from Liloan  and Malabuyoc here in Cebu,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez said since the vinegar was 100 percent natural coconut nectar, it was most preferred by chefs and health-conscious individuals.
“That is our niche and aside from that, we are the only vinegar brand certified by five international food safety and quality organizations like Halal, UKAS ISO, HACCP, BRC and BCK,” said Fernandez.
The Fernandez couple plans to introduce another variant of the vinegar this year.
“We will soon release a coco-mango vinegar variant under our brand. And we are confident that it can achieve the same acceptance and success from our customers,” said Fernandez.

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