Top Five Food Franchises in the Philippines for Expats

What are the “Top Five Franchises in the Philippines for Expats?” Many expats have asked me over the years how they can make money in the Philippines.  While I certainly recommend having a fixed source of income before moving to this archipelago in Southeast Asia, I’ve become to realize there are some legitimate franchises which can boost your income.Donut girls in the Philippines

(Photo Source: Mister Donut.com)

You might have heard some version of the following:

There is a sure way to come away from the Philippines with a million dollars…that is to bring two million there in the first place.

That said, believe it or not, Pilgrim, there are franchises out there that could, with hard work and perseverance, become the main source of your income in the Philippines.

I’ve researched some of the most reasonably-priced outlets I could find, ranging in cost from 170,000 (3,700 US Dollars) to 700,000 pesos (15,000 USD.)

Sure, you could open up your own local eatery but with the business opportunities I have listed, you have the full support of a major corporation behind you.

So gather around the campfire, boys and girls, because without further ado, here’s my  “Top Five Franchises in the Philippines for Expats.”

1. Shanghai Siomai: Minimum Investment Cost: 170,000 peso. They have dealership packages that start with a one-time P10,000 dealer registration fee and a minimum order of P5,000 worth of siomai ingredients. dimsung cart in the philippines

Superb Shanghai Siomai Store incorporates the original art of dimsum making techniques from Shanghai, China. Dimsum is a very popular dish in the Philippines. When my asawa and I used to catch the jeepney near our home in Guimaras going to the Jordan Wharf, the local dispatcher, who called me “brother,” jokingly requested I bring him back some dimsung from nearby Iloilo.

There is a large contingent of Filipino Chinese in the Philippines, my wife among them. They absolutely love dimsung. Superb Shanghai Store focuses on two all-time favorite dimsung products, Siomai and Shark’s Fin Dumplings.

2. Bread and Butter franchise  Minimum Investment Cost: 700,000 pesosGrow With Us - Bread & Butter -

Though the company’s website lists 700,000 pesos as their minimum investment cost, I have heard that a recently-opened franchise on our island province of Guimaras was acquired for P250,000. We buy all of our “Joy Cakes” for birthday celebrations from this new outlet and it saves us the trouble of taking a pump boat to Iloilo.

The cakes are delicious. Good as anything we’ve gotten from Red Ribbon or Goldilocks.

Company Background

For more than two decades, Bread & Butter has been providing quality bakery products and food services in Western Visayas and Southern Luzon region.

In 1986, the Dela Cruz Family of Kalibo, Aklan started a small bakeshop in the town’s local neighborhood.  Today, Bread & Butter has over 60 branches located in the provinces of Aklan, Boracay Island, Capiz, Iloilo, Antique, and Oriental Mindoro, and continuously opens more stores in neighboring towns and provinces.

Bread & Butter ventured into franchising in 2003 and opened its first franchised branch in Kalibo. As more and more partners joined, Bread & Butter became the leading bakery franchise in Western Visayas.

This very fast and dynamic growth was recognized by numerous national organizations including the prestigious Presidential Awards for Outstanding Enterprise – Visayas; Most Outstanding Bakeshop – Visayas and SME Model by Bank of the Philippine Islands with DTI; and by business magazines like Entrepreneur PH for its quality baked products,  strong franchise system and continuous innovation in the countryside.

Bread & Butter is a proud member of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry (PCCI),  Philippine Marketing Associate (PMA) and the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA).

Main Products and/or Services Offered

•  Delicacies – From the famous Biscocho to the uniquely produced Zebu Chips, Bread & Butter boasts a variety of delicacies perfect for Filipino merienda and pasalubong.

•  Fresh Bread – All-time favorite loaves and sweet snacks like ensaimada and cinnamon roll are heavily patronized by the local market as part of their culture and tradition.

•  Food Service – Bread & Butter also serves various sandwiches,Pasta, Ice Cream and soda beverages in response to quick service meal needs.

•  Cakes – For special occasions, the Bread & Butter Joycakes line offers premium quality yet affordable cakes. No occasion is too small or big for the Joycakes product line.

No. of Branches
•  Luzon – 5
•  Visayas – 59

3. Aquasoft Water Systems Inc.Minimum Investment Cost:  400,000 pesos, 8,700 USD AquaSoft Water Systems Inc. -

Safe drinking water is essential anywhere you live. I do not know of anyone on our island province of Guimaras who drinks their water from the tap. We didn’t even drink our tap water back in the States. Our local water treatment plant in our small town in Central Illinois had to frequently issue “boil orders” before the water was considered safe for drinking.

We invested in a water purification system.

Once we moved to the Philippines in 2009, my wife’s home had a well, which is common in our region. But many wells do not have safe drinking water but the one at our place, which I affectionately called “The Compound,” did.

I could drink the water without any problems and without boiling it first. Did we get the water tested? Nope. Though we have since moved and buy our water at a refilling station, I’m still alive after six years. Guess that well water didn’t kill me.  Water refilling stations can be found throughout all the Philippines and could be the franchise that will bring in some extra cash for you as an expat.

Aquasoft Water Systems, Inc is one of the leading proponents in the water treatment and purification industry in the Philippines today. Its Franchising vision started on December 1, 1998 when its first franchise opened in Balic Balic, Sampaloc, Manila, Since its start on 1998, the company has expanded tremendously its growth is attributed to its commitment to serve the community by brining the entrepreneurial spirit in every Filipino.

Since then the company now has a total of 115 stations nationwide.Aquasoft remains firm to maintain its dominance in water refilling station business. It will continue to advance its strategic programs and pursue its network expansion to ensure superior market coverage nationwide. Most importantly it will adhere to its goal of providing quality water and will be in constant search for new technology in response to call of the modern times.

4. Mister Donut Minimum Investment Cost: 200,000 pesos, 4,350 USD 

Donut outlets are very popular in the Philippines and Mister Donut is one of the retail stores I often see. Though my asawa prefers Dunkin’ Donut I’ve never met a donut I didn’t like.

There has even been a Krispy Kreme shop that has opened in SM City in Iloilo. Some of my co-workers from AT&T will be disappointed to learn that my favorite donut in the world, Mel-O-Cream, has been replaced by such offerings as New York City Cheescake at our new Krispy Kreme.

Listing Mister Donut as one of the best five franchises for expat in the Philippines also gives me an excuse to tell the following story:

I was headed downstairs at our local Mister Donut at the aforementioned Iloilo SM City. I asked the young Filipina behind the kiosk where “Mrs. Donut” was. I received a quizzical look in return. I foolishly asked again. The clerk had no clue that I was trying to make a joke. I figured there must be a “Mrs. Donut” if there was a “Mr. Donut.” To this day, I don’t know if there is.

Company Background

In 1955, an American named Harry Winokur discovered that people enjoy fresh donuts with their morning coffee. With this idea, he began selling donuts on the street of Boston. Eventually, a business that begun as an ambulant store became a retail store, selling not only the exclusive line of Mr. Winokur’s donuts but also a special blend of coffee which was regarded by many as the WORLD’S BEST.

The Mister Donut business became so popular that others began to crave for a piece of Mr. Winokur’s idea. To address this demand, Mr. Winokur went into franchising, selling franchises to entrepreneurs provided that his standards of QUALITY, SERVICE, and CLEANLINESS were upheld.

As a result, Mister Donut began a rapid expansion that resulted in the opening of 275 stores in the United States of America and Canada. In 1983, Duskin Co. Ltd. of Japan took an unprecedented step by acquiring the sales and trademark rights for Asia from Mister Donut America.This paved the way for the introduction of new tastes as well as the streamlining of all Mister Donut stores, not only in Japan, but even in other countries including the Philippines.

Main Products and/or Services Offered

•  Donuts
•  Baked Products – chicken pie, croissant, brownies, loaf breads, etc.
•  Coffee & Hot Chocolate
•  Light Meals & Blended Meals (for dine-in shops)

No. of Branches

•  Metro Manila – 376
•  Luzon – 548
•  Visayas – 129
•  Mindanao – 136

5. Waffle Time 250,000 pesos, 5,440 USD Waffletime Official

I’ve eaten at Waffle Time at SM City a few times. If you want a cheap, quick snack, Waffle Time won’t disappoint.

Company Background

Waffle Time Inc. is the first and original purveyor of quality waffles in a cart, with a vast array of delicious and exciting flavors to choose from.

It began in 1998 and has grown to be one of the most successful food kiosks around the country and is still expanding to serve more Filipinos.

In Waffle Time, our vision is to serve the best waffles in the world across all boarders. Awarded as the Most Promising Filipino Franchise for the Year 2006 and 2007, Waffle Time continuous to prove that we are committed to delighting our customers with our high standards of service, cleanliness and quality of products.

Main Products and/or Services Offered

•  Specialty waffles of different fillings and drinks

No. of Branches

•  Metro Manila/Luzon – 289
•  Visayas – 90
•  Mindanao – 62

Now if you want to spend some big bucks,  7-Eleven, with a  Minimum Investment Cost: 3,500,000 pesos,  76,000 USD, could be your ticket. It’s not in my Top Five because of it’s franchise fee cost, but if you’ve got some extra cash to invest, it could be worth a look.


Or should I ask, do you really want to own a franchise in the Philippines?  The World Bank ranks the Philippines 161st in starting a business. Out of 189 countries ranked, 161st is a piss poor rating. 

But if you want to slug it out and have the patience of Job, owning a franchise in the Philippines is not out of the realm of the impossible.

Most resources I have researched on Al Gore’s World Wide Web suggest that if you want to own a franchise in the Philippines as a foreigner it needs to be 60% Filipino ownership, 40% Foreigner.

If you register the business in your wife’s name you avoid the whole foreign ownership issue. If you register the business in a girlfriend’s name, for you single guys out there, you could find yourself out a pile of pesos.

Don’t think so? Search the web. Read the horror stories. Quit living by that river in Egypt. De Nile.

Of course, you could always open a sari sari store or a piggery in the Philippines for less money than these “Top Five Franchises in the Philippines for Expats” cost, but I believe your odds of making some serious money in the Philippines could be work out better with a franchise.

Research your area. See if anyone is offering similar outlets and go from there. Contact the companies you’re interested in. Do your homework. And be prepared for a lot of red tape and hard work. Nothing comes easy in this life, my friend.

(Source of franchise material for this article found at  BPI Franchise Finder)

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  • PapaDuck says:

    We used to have a Mister Donut years ago where i lived in Florida. It has since changed names. A couple of other good franchises would be Mang Inasal and French Baker, but they would be higher cost. I think French Baker has the best bread i’ve tasted here. Inasal has very good BBQ Chicken. There’s a new Donut Franchise called JCO here that has very good donuts. I believe they are out of Singapore.

    • The Kano says:

      Believe it or not, Papa Duck, our little island province of Guimaras is getting their first Mang Inasal right in downtown San Miguel. French Baker does indeed serve some delicious pastries and it would be great if nearby Iloilo City got one.

      We have visited JCO recently and they, too, have some tasty donuts. Like I said, I’ve never met a donut I didn’t like. 😉

  • Derek says:

    Hi Dave, I prefer to do things my way but a franchise can work out pretty good
    If I wanted one it would probably be water or cooking gas very profitable,
    Also like the look of the the subway franchise was in the mall Sunday had a great
    Sandwich and brewed coffee less than a 100 pesos, l like value the place was packed
    I said to my wife I thought Filipinos don’t like sandwiches, they do now she said,
    Derek in pasig.

    • The Kano says:

      I love Subway, Derek. Wish we had one near us. Well, a bloke could start their own enterprise. I believe if a person did their homework and checked out what businesses could be profitable, like LP or a water station, as you suggested, they could make some money. I’ve heard of an Australian on our island who has a popular water refilling station down the road from us.

      I eat sandwiches almost every day but my wife rarely does. Glad to hear the Subway is busy.

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