DLR Foods Supply Trading: Bridging Halal To More Than Just The Muslim Community
Manuel Legaspi Dela Rosa
DLR Foods Supply Trading is a local distributor in the Philippines focused on delivering the Halal concept to a broader audience beyond the Muslim community. Their core mission involves procuring and supplying an extensive range of Halal food items, spanning meat and poultry. With a dedication to offering top-notch, secure, and delightful Halal products, the company collaborates with a reliable network of suppliers to guarantee the highest standards in all their offerings. With that in mind, why don’t you join me in learning more about DLR Foods Supply Trading with its Founder, Noel.
How has your career led you to establishing your very own company? What factors contributed to this?
Both abroad and in the Philippines, I worked in the Food and Beverage industry. As of the moment, I am still working in the Food and Beverage industry. After I quit my job in 2020, I decided to come back to the Philippines and set up a business in the same industry I’ve always known, F&B.
What is DLR Foods Supply Trading? Could you tell us more about the history of DLR Foods Supply Trading and what inspired its creation?
I had a colleague who lived in Marawi. He told me that when they fled during the civil unrest in the area, most donations they received were non-halal food and sardines in cans. So I thought of an idea about having halal food in easy-to-open pouches so that it would be something that’s ready-to-eat.
But then the pandemic hit. While watching the news over dinner, I saw two fathers apprehended by authorities in the Philippines because they were not following quarantine protocols. But in reality, they were just looking for food. As a father, I couldn’t swallow the food that I was eating during dinner because I saw myself in them. They were working hard for their families.
This encouraged me to put up a food business. I thought to myself that this was the right time to do so, during the pandemic. So I quit. After two months, I flew back to the Philippines and I put up DLR Foods Supply Trading.
What types of products does DLR Foods specialize in, and what sets them apart from competitors?
Our initial products were ready-to-eat meals. Since it's halal, we made it chicken-based made from pure real chicken breast. In the laboratories, the freshness of the meat is usually two years. But we only make it one year for expiration. We don't want to go beyond or even close to the ideal expiration. We want it to still be fresh.
We have new product lines and have maintained the halal concept. We also made our expiration dates very short so that people could still taste the freshness. Our pastillas for example, are made with only 2 months for expiration. As much as possible, we want to offer halal, something that’s inexpensive, and still close to freshness.
How do you communicate the Halal concept to non-muslim consumers?
This is a big challenge for me. Not a lot of people are familiar with Halal, and even if they are, Halal is attached to Islam. It’s a challenge to let people understand that Halal, though it's popular with Islam, it's safe for everybody to eat. People would think that it's only for our Muslim brothers.
But no, we explain to people that there's a procedure on how to make sure that the food or anything related to the product is prepared in a Halal way or in a clean and safer way. They begin to feel safer because whatever they put in their mouths, they know that it’s clean. We also explain how Halal is not only for food, but also for non-edible products like textiles. We have some marketing campaigns to not only educate but also to share what Halal is. For example, before we start our Barangay feeding program, we show a two minute video showing what Halal food really is.
What is one lesson you learned from the ShellLiveWIRE program that you couldn't have learned anywhere else?
When I started the business, it felt like I had newly entered the Philippines. I was new to the supplier culture and customer strength, almost everything really. I had to absorb whatever I could learn from ShellLiveWIRE. It wouldn't be fair if I compared it to many other entities that I wasn't able to attend to. What I really gained from them was from the very beginning. I was impressed with the people of ShellLiveWIRE with how organized they were. Down to the smallest detail, everything was organized and planned incredibly well. They didn't leave any stone unturned to make sure that the whole aspect of running a business would be dealt with accordingly. This may be something that’s often overlooked, but to me, organization is something crucial and extremely important and cannot be taken for granted. This could not be taken in a four year course, but we had it for three to four months. That’s why I’m incredibly thankful for them.
With over three decades of experience in the F&B industry, Noel has spent 27 years traversing various Middle Eastern countries, dedicated to expanding, overseeing, franchising, and evaluating the brands and branches under their purview. Notably, in 2006, one of the brands he managed to secure is the Dubai Service Excellence Award in the UAE, an accolade from a mystery shopper competition evaluating the overall performance of food establishments. Reflecting on their expatriate years, the realization dawned that if he could contribute to the success and expansion of brands owned by others, then he could certainly do it for himself. Taking sole charge of running his business, he found it straightforward to champion inclusivity in the hiring process. Noel proudly emphasizes that everyone, without exception, is encouraged to apply for job opportunities, as long as they possess the necessary skills for the position. His commitment to inclusivity is demonstrated through the employment of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including PWDs, LGBT individuals, and senior citizens.
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