Filipino love for Pandesal began in Spanish colonial times

The Filipino breakfast table is not complete without Pan de Sal (or Pandesal), that rounded piece of bread, which is either dipped in coffee or taken with cheese or any other available topping.

The Pinoys inherited their love of bread from the Spaniards during the 400 years of Spanish colonial rule over the Philippines, from the 1500s to the late 1890s. The Spanish brothers grew wheat in the Cagayan Valley, Ilocos provinces and the Calatagan region in Batangas. The brothers ground wheat into flour for the production of their own bread and Eucharistic wafers or “Ostia” used for Mass. From these brothers, the Pinoys learned to bake and eat bread. This is why most local baked goods have Spanish names such as Pandesal, Ensaymada, and Pan de Suelo, among others.

And here is an interesting anecdote. The Philippines grew so much wheat during Spanish times that some of it was even exported to Mexico during the galleon trade.

When the Americans took over in the 1900s, they brought flour and the cultivation of wheat was abandoned. But the bakery craft continued, especially in the Batangas region. This is perhaps the reason why most bakers, even nowadays, are Batanguenos.

Filipinos were so fond of Pandesal and other flour products such as pastries, noodles and pasta, that the country’s import of wheat kept growing every year. Wheat is the raw material for the production of flour.

Records from the Bureau of Customs show that imports of milling wheat from the Philippines reached 3.01 million metric tons (MMT) in 2018, an all-time high, a 30.3% increase from 2014.

This year, that record could be broken, as the trend points to a possible wheat import of 3.13 million metric tons by the end of the year, an increase of 4% compared to the year’s figures. last.

Fifty percent of local flour production is used by the baking industry; 20% goes into noodles; Another 20% becomes cookies and crackers; four percent becomes pasta products while the remaining six percent goes into other products.

The Philippines imports two types of wheat: durum wheat and soft wheat. Durum wheat is milled to produce high protein wheat flour for the production of Pandesal, sandwich bread, Monay and other favorite Filipino breads. Soft wheat, the raw material for soft flour, has a lower protein content and is intended for the production of pastries, cakes, noodles, pancakes, muffins and other generally sweet dishes.

The United States supplies on average 90 percent of the wheat requirements of the Philippines. This year, however, wheat imports from the Philippines to the United States could reach 96.7% due to increased demand for flour from the baking industry, biscuit makers and noodle producers.

Higher per capita consumption

The Philippine wheat milling industry estimates per capita flour consumption in the Philippines at 20 kg per person based on a Philippine population of 106 million.

Filipino love for Pandesal began in Spanish colonial times

In contrast, per capita rice consumption is 110 per kg per person.

Indonesia consumes more flour at around 33 kg per person. Thailand and Vietnam use about the same amount of flour as we do.

The growing demand for baked goods has fueled the establishment of more flour mills in the country.

Since 2014, seven new flour mills have been set up by enterprising businessmen keen to grab a share of the growing flour market, bringing the number of local flour mills to 21. Two mills are reportedly in the pipeline, one in Mindanao, the other in Visayas. .

The largest flour mill in the country is San Miguel Mills Inc., followed by Philippine Foremost Flour Mills, based in Iloilo City.

Along with Pilmico Foods Corporation in Iligan City and Universal Robina Corporation in Manila, they constitute the top four factories in terms of market share.

The other mills are Philippine Flour Mills, General Milling Corporation, RFM Corporation, Wellington Flour Mills, Liberty Flour Mills, Morning Star Milling Corporation and Delta Milling Industries.

The new millers are Monde Nissin Corporation, Atlantic Grains, Asian Grains Corporation, Agri-Pacific Corporation, Great Earth Industrial Food Inc., New Hope Flour Milling Corporation, North Star Milling Corporation, Big C Agri Miller, Mabuhay Interflour Inc. and California. Flour Group Inc.

With more mills importing wheat and producing flour, the Pinoys are sure to have an abundant supply of their favorite Pandesal and other delicious baked goods.

Edward K. Thompson