Singapore brand mark to help local firms stand out abroad

To be introduced in Nov, it aims to provide assurance of quality to overseas buyers

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo watching as an extruder machine made mock meat during a tour of food manufacturer KH Roberts' facility yesterday. The food manufacturing and service industry is ex
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo watching as an extruder machine made mock meat during a tour of food manufacturer KH Roberts' facility on Sept 21, 2020. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Local companies in sectors from food and fashion to beauty and home decor will soon find it easier to make an impact on international markets.

A Singapore brand mark to be introduced in November aims to provide assurances to overseas buyers of a product's quality, and in turn help it stand out from the competition and command premium pricing.

The roll-out will start with products related to food and beverage (F&B), beauty and wellness, fashion and accessories, as well as homeware and decor, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.

Mr Chan told a virtual briefing that the focus on quality will be a key differentiation for Singapore food products from its competitors, with a growing consumer focus on food safety and quality assurance.

"We will further amplify this to make sure that consumer interests and the purchase of local brands will be enhanced, not just in the Singapore market but also in the overseas market," he noted.

A road map for the brand mark and plans for various sectors will be released in due course, he added.

"We see ourselves being able to value-add... at critical parts of the global value chain, and that will allow us (to) not only have an expanding market, but it will also strengthen our own domestic food resilience," noted Mr Chan, who was speaking after a visit to local food manufacturer KH Roberts.

He noted that the food manufacturing and service industry is expected to be a key pillar among growth sectors in Singapore.

The food service segment consists of more than 10,000 firms, which account for around 0.8 per cent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) and over 180,000 jobs.

There are around 940 enterprises in food manufacturing, contributing 1.1 per cent to annual GDP and employing over 48,000 workers.

Mr Chan noted that this segment had expanded consistently before the Covid-19 pandemic, recording a compounded annual growth rate of about 6.45 per cent between 2013 and 2018.

While the sector has seen its fair share of challenges amid the pandemic, including supply chain disruptions, its growth trajectory has not been disrupted, he said.

  • 940

  • Approximate number of firms in the food manufacturing segment.

  • 1.1%

    Food manufacturing segment's contribution to Singapore's annual GDP.

  • >48,000

    Number of workers in the food manufacturing segment.

  • 60%

    Percentage of food manufacturing output which is exported.

  • 6.45%

    Compounded annual growth rate of the food manufacturing sector between 2013 and 2018.

  • >10,000

    Number of companies in the food service sub-sector.

  • 0.8%

    Food service segment's contribution to Singapore's annual GDP.

  • >180,000

    Number of workers in the food service segment.

Mr Chan pointed to Asia's expanding middle-class market, and noted that quality products are a key concern for such consumers.

This will play to Singapore's strengths and create job opportunities, he said.

One is in the area of research and development such as the push here for agri-tech development, an initiative that is forging collaboration between institutes of higher learning and companies here.

He cited KH Roberts, which set up an industrial lab with the Singapore Institute of Technology last year that allows students access to equipment and the company's technicians and scientists.

One of the instruments students can access is an extruder, which transforms proteins into meat-like substances or plant-based products.

KH Roberts chief executive Peter Ong told the briefing: "We are fortunate to be able to host that equipment here for the students to have (practical) experience, and also for us to work on industry-type projects for potential customers."

Prima Taste general manager Eric Sim said: "The global food sector is highly competitive, especially in the ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook market, with many brands fighting for the same consumer dollar in each respective market."

The introduction of a brand mark will allow companies to leverage Singapore's global reputation as an innovation hub and gain an edge over its competitors, he added.

Mr Ang Khim Wee, head of business development at steamed bun maker Lim Kee Food Manufacturing, said the new brand mark will help establish partnerships with export markets and firms overseas.

The company exports its products to countries such as China, Thailand and Britain.

"The mark gives assurance to partners and clients of the quality of our product, and it is important for us to build that confidence with our B2B (business-to-business) partners," Mr Ang said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline Singapore brand mark to help local firms stand out abroad. Subscribe