Rich pickings for food makers at trade fair

Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing is participating in the four-day event at the Singapore Expo from April 12 to 15.
Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing is participating in the four-day event at the Singapore Expo from April 12 to 15. PHOTO: SINGAPORE MANUFACTURING FEDERATION

A trade fair next month is shaping up as an important showcase for home-grown food makers looking to innovate as well as go overseas to expand their businesses.

Some firms will present new innovative products such as ready-to- cook meals, canned fish otah and salted egg-yolk glutinous rice balls at the trade fair.

Noodle maker Tan Seng Kee Foods, which uses pasteurisation to make fresh preservative-free noodles, will roll out a new range of microwaveable meal kits. This new technology to extend the shelf life of fresh noodles naturally - to up to six months in chilled conditions - has opened up new markets for the firm locally and overseas.

"Before that, we could sell only to other businesses such as hawkers, wet markets and restaurants," said Ms Annie Tan, the firm's director, at a media event yesterday.

Now, the firm is able to expand to the retail market and even export to countries such as the United States and the Netherlands.

Tan Seng Kee's new products will be featured at next month's Food and Hotel Asia trade show.

About 3,300 exhibitors from 70 countries are expected to take part in the four-day event at the Singapore Expo from April 12 to 15.

The fair will also feature a Singapore Pavilion where some 138 local firms will showcase their products.

"Innovative practices and technology as well as strategic alliances are important pillars for the Singapore food and beverage industry," said Mr Sunny Koh, deputy president of Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF).

The fair will allow companies to build networks and distribution channels, said Mr Koh, who is also the chairman of SMF's food and beverage industry group.

He urges all small and medium- sized enterprises looking for growth to move abroad, saying: "Adding the international market can add to your total turnover."

To help smaller food makers export more easily, SMF runs a scheme known as the Working-in Partnership programme.

This enables a range of firms to consolidate various food products into a single container, and ship them directly to overseas supermarkets. This helps the SMEs reduce costs, while using the strength of collective branding.

A total of 47 companies export directly to Thailand and Myanmar through the scheme.

The export value to Thailand from September 2014 to July 2015 was around $1.5 million.

SMF said it plans to expand the programme to the Philippines, mainland China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong and India.

SMF will also work with IE Singapore to invite some 130 buyers from more than 60 companies across 18 countries and regions to meet Singapore companies at the fair.

Mr Lee Yee Fung, group director for lifestyle business at International Enterprise Singapore, said the Asia-Pacific is projected to have the second highest growth rate for packaged food in the next five years, after the Middle East and Africa combined.

"With a strong ecosystem of food companies in place, the Singapore food and beverage industry is in a prime spot to ride this growth trajectory," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Rich pickings for food makers at trade fair'. Print Edition | Subscribe