Villa Manila taps into “pent-up demand” for the next generation of Filipino-American flavors

“Villa Manila’s vision is to represent the next generation of Filipino-American flavours. Everyone is very passionate about representation [especially in the AAPI community]I thought it was time to create our first Filipino American food brand.”Fila Manila founder and CEO Jake Deleon told FoodNavigator-USA.

No stranger to the CPG world, Deleon spent time managing categories and building brands for Procter & Gamble and Starbucks, before setting out on his own to start an almond milk brand called Origin Almond which was sold at several major retailers including Whole Foods Walmart.

However, as a refrigerated beverage producer that relied heavily on in-store traffic (for example, a Whole Foods customer took a drink along with lunch from a hot bar), the brand struggled during the early days of the pandemic and was eventually phased out in 2020 with Deleon’s ability to sell the remainder of his inventory.

The origin story of Villa Manila

During the months-long lockdown in 2020, Dillion decided to embark on a new entrepreneurial venture closely linked to his Filipino identity. As a first-generation Filipino American immigrant born in the Philippines and raised in New Jersey, DeLeon was struck by the underrepresentation there of his homeland’s cuisine in mainstream American food culture, despite it being the second largest Asian American community in the United States (behind Chinese Americans), according to U.S. Census data. .

“My brain immediately went to the grocery shelves. If we’re such a big part of the American population, how is there about 0% representation of Filipino food on major grocery shelves?” It was a huge breakDillion said.

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