Rice from Sino-S'pore food zone for sale soon

At yesterday's launch of the Japanese rice grown in Singapore's only agribusiness park in China were (from left) Jilin's Cofco Rice general manager Li Chengjun; Mr Zheng Chao, minister counsellor (economic and commercial office) of the Chinese Embass
At yesterday's launch of the Japanese rice grown in Singapore's only agribusiness park in China were (from left) Jilin's Cofco Rice general manager Li Chengjun; Mr Zheng Chao, minister counsellor (economic and commercial office) of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore; Mr Miguel Ko, chief executive of the Ascendas-Singbridge Group; Jilin City Mayor Zhang Huanqiu; Mr Yeo Chun Cheng, chief executive of the Sino-Singapore Jilin Food Zone and executive vice-president of Singbridge; and Mrs Mui-Kok Kah Wei, senior director of purchasing and merchandising at FairPrice.PHOTO: SINGBRIDGE GROUP

60 tonnes of Japanese rice expected in FairPrice supermarkets by December

The first batch of Japanese rice grown in Singapore's only agribusiness park in China will be on shelves here by December.

A pilot batch of 60 tonnes of the short-grain sticky rice will be sold in all FairPrice Xtra hypermarts and Finest supermarkets in 2.5kg and 5kg bags.

The price will be "affordable and competitive", said Mrs Mui-Kok Kah Wei, senior director of purchasing and merchandising at FairPrice.

The Sino-Singapore Jilin Food Zone, as the park is called, showcased the product - the first it produced since it started in 2012 - at a food seminar here yesterday.

Japanese rice, which is imported here from Japan, the United States and Vietnam, has become more popular in recent years, with consumption more than doubling since 2011. Singaporeans consumed 1,359 tonnes of the rice last year, up from 602 tonnes in 2011.

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Output from the agribusiness park in the north-eastern Chinese city of Jilin will provide an additional source, said Mr Yeo Chun Cheng, chief executive of the park and executive vice-president of Singbridge.

He told a briefing yesterday that the food zone will roll out more products in the coming months.

They will be sold in Singapore first before being distributed in other markets, including China.

"Anything coming out of this zone will be safe and of good quality," said Mr Yeo. "And if Singaporeans like them, then they are likely to succeed elsewhere."

Dr Lee Boon Yang, the park's chairman, added: "(The park) is aimed at demonstrating a replicable and scalable model food zone for efficient production of safe and high-quality food."

The park is a joint project started in 2012 by the Jilin city government and Singbridge, which is part of the Ascendas-Singbridge group that is majority-owned by Temasek Holdings. At 1,450 sq km, it is roughly twice the size of Singapore.

It has attracted 15 investment projects, including an integrated pig farm, a salmon farm and herbal beverage production. Their total worth is valued at more than 10 billion yuan (S$2.2 billion).

The 5 billion yuan integrated pig farming project, a joint venture between Singapore Food Industries and Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group, will start operating by the middle of next year.

It aims to produce 300,000 pigs a year by 2019, with 100,000 earmarked for Singapore.

The park is the only area in China endorsed by Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority as a disease-free zone. This makes it suitable for rearing pigs, which could add to Singapore's source of imported pork.

The food zone signed four memorandums of understanding with investors yesterday, including one on a joint project to produce high-quality infant milk powder.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2015, with the headline 'Rice from Sino-S'pore food zone for sale soon'. Print Edition | Subscribe