Many spend their college years preoccupied with classes, exams, and papers; and spending as much of their free time as possible with friends. Then there are others who have a different mindset: they choose to get a head start and put up their own enterprises way before Giuseppe Verdi\\\'s Triumphal March starts to play.
The seven individuals behind Unica Foods Co. have clearly acquired the entrepreneurial mindset ahead of their peers — and are set to take on the food industry with their unique product, Mr. Suahe Gourmet Shrimp, one of the Student Category finalists for the inaugural The Next Big Food Entrepreneur. We did an e-mail interview with Sarah Patrishia Napala, one of Unica Foods\\\' co-owners, in between her school duties and participation in the Mercato and Soderno Weekend Markets (as part of the contest proper).
Mr. Suahe Gourmet Shrimp — ready-to-eat, microwavable shrimp in a bottle — is the first product from the company, which is “a social enterprise... (with a) vision of uplifting the community of Barangay Sagrada Familia II, Pampanga, through providing viable and sustainable livelihood opportunities,” Napala explained. It is from this community that they get their suahe, which are then bottled and sold in different flavors. There are three available variants as of post time: Olé Mexicano, Buono Italiano, and Spicy Oriental.
Currently sold at P229 per 8-ounce bottle, Mr. Suahe Gourmet Shrimp is a good option for urban dwellers and super-busy bees who simply can\\\'t spare a half hour or more whipping up tasty, home-cooked dishes, as well as people who don\\\'t (or won\\\'t) cook. “They just need to transfer the shrimp to a plate, microwave it for a minute or two, then eat it with rice, pasta or bread. The process is simple, and consumers can expect value for their money... By simply heating the product, one already has a gourmet meal to enjoy,” Napala said. Unica Foods has an ongoing promo — charging only P650 for three bottles of pre-cooked suahe — and also sells rice meals (P105) and pasta dishes (P100) under the Mr. Suahe banner.
Besides the social impact component and dual targets of convenience and quality, there\\\'s another aspect that gives this particular business an advantage: it\\\'s the first of its kind in today\\\'s varied food market. “Mr. Suahe is a first-mover product that makes use of gourmet flavors in order to present an innovative product of ready-to-eat bottled shrimp to the market... It (also) has an intrinsically added value since ready-to-eat shrimps are not previously available in the market,” said Napala. “With that, consumers find it very convenient to purchase such rather than prepare it themselves.”