Filipino food

How a Bicolano family sells hundreds of laing a day on TikTok Shop

Lance Spencer Yu

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How a Bicolano family sells hundreds of laing a day on TikTok Shop

HOMEMADE. Here are the most popular ginataang products of Josefina's Homemade Food.

Josefina's Homemade Food

Small local businesses like Josefina's Homemade Food have turned to TikTok videos and live selling to reach a nationwide audience – and big brands have quickly followed

MANILA, Philippines – What started out as a carinderia or eatery in Bicol is now a nationwide business that sells hundreds of ready-to-eat laing and ginataang santol every day – and a big reason for it is TikTok.

With its deliciously spicy bottled ginataang products, Josefina’s Homemade Food has established itself as one of the most popular small food and beverage vendors on TikTok Shop. As much as 70% of the family business’ total sales now comes from the online platform.

“Prior to TikTok Shop, we were only getting a few orders, less than 20,” business owner Abbie Ricohermoso told Rappler. “In 2023, noong pinasok po namin si TikTok Shop, doon po tumaas talaga ‘yung sales namin. Na-experience na namin, 100- to 200-plus.”

(In 2023, when we entered TikTok Shop, that’s where our sales really went up. We experienced it reaching 100- to 200-plus.)

Ricohermoso said TikTok Shop is “very effective” as a platform to speak to her customers through live selling, empowering the small business to reach anyone and everyone.

RECOGNIZED. Josefina Barcela (left) and her daughter, Abbie Ricohermoso (right), are recognized for being among TikTok Shop’s top vendors. Photo from TikTok

“We promote our products through live streaming, through content creation. We’re not content creators but through TikTok, we can create raw videos. And that’s what people want – very genuine, very authentic,” Ricohermoso told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino.

Parang breath of fresh air nang makapanood ka ng isang genuine video na nagluluto talaga. And then hindi mo lang mapapanood, makakain mo rin siya, puwede kang umorder,” she added.

(It’s a breath of fresh air that you see a genuine video of someone actually cooking. And you don’t just watch it, but you can actually order and eat it too.)

A humble carinderia in Bicol

Though it was Ricohermoso’s social media savvy that brought the family business to a nationwide audience, the story of Josefina’s Homemade Food started much earlier – with a small carinderia in Bicol owned by her mother, Josefina Barcela.

HOMEMADE. Josefina Barcela continues to make laing by hand to this day. Photo from Abbie Ricohermoso

Over decades, Barcela perfected her recipes.

Ang laing namin ay special ang pagkakaluto kasi more on niyog siya, tapos wala kaming ingredients na pampalasa, walang preservative. ‘Yun lang talaga,” Barcela said.

(Our laing is cooked in a special way because it uses more coconut, and it doesn’t have added flavoring or preservatives. That’s really all it is.)

After coming to Manila, Barcela brought those recipes with her, cooking Bicolano specialties for loved ones. But demand started to grow, and their family began selling bottled ready-to-eat versions of laing, ginataang santol, and Bicol express.

Ang gusto po namin ay parang ibalik po sila sa Bicol, and since ‘yun po ang specialty namin, we make sure na ‘yung mga main ingredients po namin ay directly sinosource po natin sa Bicol (We want to virtually bring them back to Bicol, and since that’s our specialty, we make sure to directly source our main ingredients from Bicol),” Ricohermoso said.

In the early days, Ricohermoso’s family used to work as a small team. Now, their business has grown to include 10 employees, although her 74-year-old mother still cooks the huge batches of laing by hand every day. Barcela’s 70-year-old husband, Jorge, helps too, cracking open dozens and dozens of coconuts.

We really started na kami-kami lang. Mother ko, brother ko, ako, and then ‘yung husband ko (We really started the business with just us – my mother, brother, me, and my husband),” Ricohermoso told Rappler. “Now, through TikTok Shop, we are able to employ more people.”

From a small eatery in Bicol, Josefina’s Homemade Food now dreams of going global. Ricohermoso plans on setting up a bigger facility and getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration – the first steps to eventually shipping their ginataang products overseas.

TikTok Shop’s power

Other micro, small, and medium enterprises have also found success through TikTok Shop. Since it launched in 2021, the platform now has over 2 million sellers, the majority of which are local businesses.

In particular, electronics, fashion, lifestyle, and fast-moving consumer goods were the business industries that saw the most growth, according to Jonah Ople, TikTok Shop’s category lead for fashion.

For instance, electronics had the fastest growth in terms of gross merchandise value or GMV, tripling in the first quarter of 2024 versus the same quarter in 2023. Meanwhile, fashion saw the largest live GMV growth in Q1 2024, as it grew 2.5 times year-on-year.

Ople also said TikTok is making an effort to put local Filipino goods “at the forefront of our platform.” This includes simplifying the requirements for a small local seller to get their TikTok Shop started.

Nevertheless, big brands have taken to TikTok as well, with Nestlé Philippines now among the biggest vendors on the social media platform. The food and beverage giant said its TikTok Shop now delivers over 100,000 buyers and 200,000 orders monthly, growing 36% month-on-month. –

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.