Clara’s Food Products and the Saga of Goat’s Milk Barquillos

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Clara’s Goat’s Milk Barquillos
are simply the best. #Bacolodpasalubong

Clara's goat's milk barquillos. Bacolod pasalubong
Cecilia Ploteña and her famous goat’s milk barquillos.

In Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, there’s only one name that comes to mind when goat’s milk barquillos are wanted–and that is Clara’s. Learn more about the indefatigable woman behind the business.

Clara’s Humble Beginnings

A lot of people are stuck in the daily grind of employment because that had been instilled to most of us in the middle class. Study hard, don’t cut class, and get a good job, we were told. But after her early forced retirement from the defunct company Nivico following the People Power Revolution in 1986, Cecilia Ploteña didn’t want to end up jobless and without a source of income.

Married and with three kids, Cecilia turned to making fresh breads because of her interest in baking. It was her mother Clarita, who had a business named Clara’s Barquillos before, who influenced her so much to also get into the trade. With a P3000 capital in 1987, Cecilia started baking using drums heated with firewood as her improvised oven. She made different kinds of breads daily, using anywhere from two to five sacks of flour per day.

But it seems that Cecilia and fresh breads were a mismatch as a business. Though she made good quality breads, she said that the profit margin was not that big so the income was not worth it. Plus, there were returns and the collectibles were just to difficult to keep up with. She thought of a way to maximize her profit that will compensate the effort that her family puts it. So after two years, she shifted to making specialty products.

Clara's barquiron. Bacolod pasalubong
Barquiron by Clara’s–barquillos filled with polvoron.

Cecilia also said that she is fortunate to have found a baker who was good at making different baked products. He was instrumental in the shift of their business. They were able to produce bañadas, galletas, and other special cookies in addition to their existing barquillos, and piaya. Instead of peddling their products like they used to with fresh breads, they started supplying their goods on consignment to groceries and supermarkets. That resulted in an overwhelming increase in profits because pasalubong products do not require a lot of flour to make, have a longer shelf life so they can be sold in big stores, and they can be sold at a higher premium.

Clara's goat's milk barquillos. Bacolod pasalubong
Clara’s goat’s milk barquillos.
Clara's goat's milk barquillos. Bacolod pasalubong
Because barquillos are fragile, it is best to buy them in plastic containers like there, especially if you are going to buy them as pasalubong.

Eventually, Cecilia joined the Association of Negros Producers. She is thankful to the association because not only was she able to display her products at the Negros Showroom and get more exposure and sales, she got motivated to innovate because of the Bulawan Awards that the association holds annually. She said that although she didn’t win an award, she is still fortunate because one of the products that she entered, which was the Goat’s Milk Barquillos, is now her signature best-selling product. It is sought-after product that is being sold in premier establishments like Virgie’s Pasalubong, Pendy’s. and Rowenas’s in Tagaytay.

One of the reason

Clara's piaya. Bacolod pasalubong.
Clara’s piaya. They also sell piaya but they can only accommodate large orders. But I really like it. It is sweet enough, not too flaky, and all sooo good.

s behind Clara’s Food Products is Cecilia’s willingness to innovate. She was also the first one to come up with the flavored barquillos, although barquillos has been a long time product of Bacolod and many bakeshops are making them. But while the flavored barquillos were a hit and was also followed by many, Cecilia stopped their production because she didn’t feel comfortable about adding food colors to her products. She wanted to make them as natural as possible.

Clara's uraro cookies. Bacolod pasalubong
Clara’s Uraro Cookies are also sought-after in local supermarkets.

At present, Clara’s Food Products is enjoying stable business. She does not really have plans for expansion, as she is already happy with her achievements and she is not getting younger. Her son Chris Noel is now helping her out with logistics. Cecilia is now happy and content as her goals have already been achieved, which are sending her children to good schools until they get good education that will ready them for the world.

Clara’s Food Products are available at their showroom at the 25th-Lacson Calamba Extension, Bacolod City, at the Negros Showroom at 8th-Lacson Streets and Robinsons City Walk, as well as some pasalubong centers in the city. Tel. No. (034) 709-1958, 433-4199.

Clara's Food Products. Bacolod pasalubong
Clara’s Food Products showroom and office at 25th-Lacson Calamba Extension, Bacolod City.

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