The name is almost a dead giveaway.
While it hints at provincial bestsellers, the reference is far and wide, alluding to anything from songs to tourist attractions. In this case, Probinsya Hits refers to food. The social enterprise of siblings Scott and Vanessa Abella distributes homemade goods from small family businesses in Visayas and Mindanao to Metro Manila.
Operations started in 2015 but the product lineup was only officially launched in October 2016. “Sometimes, for small businesses, the way to expand is usually to go to an area where there’s more buying power and here in the Philippines, it’s really in Metro Manila.”
To date, Probinsya Hits distributes bottled seafood like bangus belly sardines in original and spicy flavors from Cebu and gourmet tuyo from Capiz as well as wine variants like bignay and duhat from Negros and pineapple white wine from Cebu.
“For the past months, we’ve exposed these products to other people and we’ve received so much good feedback,” says Vanessa. “A lot of balikbayans would order cartons (around 24 bottles each) and we would send them abroad. We also distribute to neighborhood grocers, chefs, restaurants, and even those who own vacation resorts. We get a lot of orders from random people, too. These people can finish the products in one to two weeks,” she adds.
With the growing number of patrons, Probinsya Hits ought to be on the shelves of supermarkets by now, but the siblings are hesitant. “Supermarkets usually have a consignment business model and it’s a business model we don’t subscribe to. We do fair trade with our suppliers; they dictate the price and we buy the goods straight and in bulk so we get a good price also. In return, they get capital right away and continue with production.” To make up for accessibility, Probinsya Hits tapped neighborhood grocers and joined the Department of Agriculture (DA) to participate in more trade fairs and bazaars until supplies last.
Operations started in 2015 but the product lineup was only officially launched in October 2016. “Sometimes, for small businesses, the way to expand is usually to go to an area where there’s more buying power, and here in the Philippines, it’s really in Metro Manila.”
They fully respect and adhere to their suppliers’ production process and wait until it’s harvest time before they order the items. “Our suppliers sometimes have special techniques for the goods; at the very least we just find out the ingredients and the general process so we can also tell our customers when they ask.” The only condition that Probinsya Hits has with its suppliers is that they give the goods without the labels to keep the consistency of the brand.
Packaging also comes from small enterprises. As for logistics, everything is done by the siblings. “The logistics from the provinces is a trade secret but once they get to Manila, we are the ones who personally deliver. It’s just the two of us but by extension (and affinity) our mom, dad, or younger brother brings them to the customers.”
Since joining the DA’s pool of exhibitors, a lot of opportunities and potential partnerships have opened up for Probinsya Hits. Up to now, the siblings still can’t believe that they ran out of stock after Madrid Fusión Manila, but new products are on the way. The volume of orders can take its toll but the two believe that it’s their commitment to the suppliers and the brand of service to consumers that make them a hit in the market. “We’re still a startup business but I’m glad that it’s able to help small family businesses and enterprises,” says Scott. There are many things to look forward to for Probinsya Hits now that more products are in the pipeline. “Be prepared for the gastronomical experience,” they say.
Originally published in F&B Report Vol. 14 No. 3