Changi Airport stores pack hawker culture into food gift sets for a taste of Singapore

The Taste Singapore outlet at the Changi Airport Terminal 4 transit lounge. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHEN

SINGAPORE - From laksa-flavoured cookies to fresh noodles, tourists can now take home more gift sets featuring local food items at Changi Airport.

This is part of a new initiative to help local food manufacturers capture a slice of the global market.

Dedicated food gift aisles offering about 20 local food products from 11 brands, such as Polar Puffs and Cakes, and Fong Yit Kaya, have been introduced at Taste Singapore outlets at the transit areas of Terminals 1 and 4.

The initiative is a partnership between the Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association and Focus Network Agencies, an airport retailer with a presence in 24 countries.

Of the 11 brands, nine are new to Changi Airport, including Four Seasons Durian and Shermay's Singapore Fine Food.

The food gift sets will also be available online at ishop Changi.

The Singapore Food Gifts initiative, part of Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association's drive to help local food manufacturers take innovative food products into new markets, was launched by Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang at the new Terminal 4 outlet on Saturday (Nov 18).

Global sales of food gifts are expected to grow from $75 billion in 2015 to $96 billion by 2020, while in Singapore, confectionery, souvenirs and gifts are popular among tourists, accounting for 8 per cent to 11 per cent of their total shopping expenditure, Mr Lim said in a speech.

As international visitor arrivals grow, Singapore food manufacturers are well positioned to create new products for both the local and overseas markets, he said.

Mr Paul Loo, group chief executive of Focus Network Agencies, said that the food gifts add a local flavour to the selection of international confectionery brands sold at Taste Singapore. "This is the first step, we will test it and see if there is potential to take these local products to our stores overseas," he said.

The Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association is working with partners such as the Singapore Tourism Board to provide marketing support for the initiative through targeted in-market promotional campaigns in China, Indonesia and Japan.

The association's president Thomas Pek said: "The Singapore Food Gifts initiative will help food manufacturers to commercialise new products, and establish new channels to promote them."

Four Seasons Durian, for example, will be making its first foray into Changi Airport with its durian candy and durian kaya products.

Business development manager Lance Lee said that the company, which has six retail outlets and a cafe in Singapore, is using its launch at the airport as a first step to marketing its products overseas next year.

"Our brand is known to Singaporeans, but we have hired a consultant to help us create packaging that will tell our brand story and appeal to international customers who may not know us," said Mr Lee. The new packaging will be ready early next year, he added.

Each Singapore Hawker Gift package contains pasteurised noodles that have a shelf life of one month, and fresh paste. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHEN

Noodle manufacturer Tan Seng Kee Foods is selling three of its products - curry mee, prawn mee soup and laksa - as a Singapore Hawker Gift package. Each package contains pasteurised noodles that have a shelf life of one month, and fresh paste.

Said its executive director Raymond Tan: "We want to promote hawker culture overseas... by selling it in this gift box, hopefully tourists will buy it and (take it back home) to share."

Mr Juan Almada, who was browsing the products at Taste Singapore at the end of his first trip to the Republic on Saturday, said that he planned to buy spice mixes and other food products to cook for friends and family back home in Mexico.

Said the 42-year-old industrial engineer: "I love Singapore food... I spent most of my time here eating in hawker centres. I think these gifts are a great idea; food is the best way to represent any culture."

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