By Mel Fernandez

“The world is my kitchen. I have been to over 65 countries pushing Filipino food cooked with MMC’s products,” said sauce tycoon Clarita Reyes-Lapus, the head of Marigold Manufacturing Corporation, which was established in the 1980s and manufactures more than 100 condiments that carry the Mama Sita brand name.

AUCKLAND – The Mama Sita brand is a household name in the Philippines. Some commentators have even described this iconic local brand as the Pinoy equivalent of condiment market leaders such as Heinz, Knorr, Kikoman or Lee Kum Kee for Filipino families living abroad.

In an effort to introduce Filipino food and flavours to other nationalities overseas, MMC has been bringing the Mama Sita line of ready-to-use sauces to food shows around the world.

A couple of years ago, the company took centre stage in the Tres Marias Trading’s stand at the Auckland Food Show. Tres Maria Trading, the leading importer of Philippine products in New Zealand, participated in the Auckland Food Show for the first time to bring the taste of the Philippines to the traders and consumers who visited this premier food event. Besides the Mama Sita line of products two other popular brands were featured at the TMT stand – Red Horse, the market leader in Philippine beers made by San Miguel Brewery and snack food giant Rebisco’s wide range of products.

Red Horse, the market leader in Philippine beers

In an exclusive NZ interview with us at the Auckland Food Show, Clarita Reyes-Lapus introduced some of the new products the company was launching internationally. “I came here to grow the market,” said Clarita. “We heard that at this show we can reach an international market – besides the locals, international visitors also come for the show.”

The popular food brand offered to ‘patikim’ (let visitors taste) different selections of barbecue using Mama Sita’s Barbecue Marinade, Inihaw, Inasal and Fiery Labuyo at the TMT stand. “The locals seemed to like the taste of Mama Sita’s barbecue – even the very hot Labuyo barbecue,” observed Clarita. “Mama Sita’s Caldereta Mix and our Sinigang Mix also took the spotlight with the public’s enthusiastic reception of the sample dishes – Beef Caldereta and Corned Beef Sinigang.

According to Clarita Sinigang is their number one product here in New Zealand. Then comes Caldereta, Adobo, Palabok and Tocino. “We launched four new products at the Auckland show. The all natural Labuyo – a hot pepper sauce and three other marinades. The new fiery BBQ marinade is seasoned with labuyo – it is a spicy dipping marinade, so you just dip and grill.” The MMC marketing team also did some sampling of the all natural Champorado.

  Mama Sita at the Food Show in Auckland

“We are on a mission to bring Philippine flavours to the world. Our Kare-Kare mix sold like hotcakes overseas because of the convenience of preparing this dish. It is a lot of work to roast the peanuts and prepare the sauce from scratch.

“In a night market in Vienna our BBQ Marinade was a big hit. In Pakistan our MS Oyster Sauce is the largest selling oyster sauce brand; even though all over the world the oyster sauce market is ruled by China.

“At one time it was nearly impossible to cook sinigang using real green tamarind pulp in the US. But nowadays Filipino migrants can cook it every day at home using Mama Sita’s Sinigang Tamarind Soup Base.”

MMC has two agents for its range in New Zealand – Lim Brothers and Tres Marias.


By Mel Fernandez

AUCKLAND – Food is part of our ‘diaspora nostalgia’, as one food writer described the elemental obsession for a reminder of home. These days sorely missed Filipino delicacies can be whipped up at home conveniently with ready-to-use sauces and mixes like the Mama Sita range, which is available in Filipino stores in over 65 countries.

According to the Business Mirror exports constitute 50% of the business of the Marigold Manufacturing Corporation, a company established in 1980 to produce sauces to make homestyle Filipino recipes like kare-kare, palabok and sinigang.

Clarita Reyes-Lapus is the head of Marigold Manufacturing Corporation, the 50-year-old company which manufactures the 106 condiments that carry the Mama Sita brand name. She is the daughter of the founder – Teresita ‘Mama Sita’ Reyes.

“When my mother travelled abroad she pitied all the Filipinos who were just eating hot dogs, so she would cook Filipino food for them. They could enjoy her cooking long after she had gone as their freezers were full of the dishes she made. The children of the migrants would cry when Mama Sita was leaving.”

The apparent need for ready-made sauces and mixes for kababayan overseas led to the pioneering development of over 106 products under the Mama Sita brand name.

“My grandfather started the Aristocrat Restaurant at the beach resort along Manila Bay 82 years ago,” added Clarita. The restaurant promotes itself as the ‘home of the best chicken BBQ in town’.

MMC also publishes a series of cookbooks on new and traditional Filipino recipes for home cooks. They donate some cookbooks to libraries and schools in the Philippines and abroad.

Clarita’s family is considered food royalty in the Philippines for their efforts in promoting Filipino food both in the Philippines and overseas.