CALL it fruit diplomacy: a large poster showing the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia enjoying a plate of Malaysian fruit features prominently at a new bazaar at Sultan Gate, in Beach Road.
The bustling 5,100 sq ft Agrobazaar houses a grocery store, cafe and rooftop restaurant.
It will further reinforce Singapore as a key market for Malaysia's agro-food products, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at its official opening yesterday.
Currently, 20 per cent of these products worth more than US$1 billion (S$1.25 billion) are exported here annually. "I am sure those numbers will continue to rise," Datuk Seri Najib added.
The shelves of the Agrobazaar are stocked with 20 types of fresh fruit with signs showing their states of origin; for instance, dragon fruit from Selangor at $6 per kg, duku langsat from Terengganu at $3 per kg, and D24 durian at $12 per kg from Raub, Pahang.
Besides fruit, items such as milk chocolate at $6.50, cassava chips at $3.50 and instant porridge at $1.50 are among the more than 280 products displayed.
The items are "competitively priced" against rival sellers, said Mr Ahmad Ishak, director-general of the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama), the agency driving the initiative.
Fama, which is under Malaysia's Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, said yesterday that the Agrobazaar "provides a more permanent platform to promote and share Malaysian fruits and agro-food products among Singaporeans and visitors".
It was welcomed by Ms Fauziah Mohamed Yah, managing director of Malaysian company My Haiz, which owns the Dor and Heidy brands of cookies. "The focus on Malaysian products here is good - at supermarkets, we have to compete with other brands around the world," she said.
The bazaar's rooftop restaurant serves Malay cuisine such as assam fish and rendang while the in-house cafe - KopieSatu, which has 28 outlets around Malaysia - sells "premium coffee" such as cappuccino and macchiato at $6 a cup.
Said KopieSatu manager Wan Faizatul Aniza Ismayatim: "It is exciting because this is the best coffee we want to bring to the world. Singapore becomes our door to the international market."
The cafe sells confectionery made from tropical fruit - like rainbow cakes at $8 a slice - by Sooperlicious, a new start-up by Ms Hana K.
The Agrobazaar is run by 10 Malaysian and Singaporean staff.
Accountant Florence Lee, 54, who bought chilli sauce and cookies at the bazaar yesterday, praised the concept and said the prices were "quite reasonable".
But she hopes more products such as ginger cookies and dark chocolate could be brought in.
Fama's Mr Ahmad said the Agrobazaar plans to increase its product range to about 700 items in the coming months. He expects annual sales to reach RM5 million (S$2 million).