F&B trade show expects visitor numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels

The event features an Alternative Protein Asia zone, which is dedicated to plant-based and food-technology alternatives to animal proteins. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - One of Asia's largest international food and beverage (F&B) trade shows is expecting to attract 47,000 visitors, similar to numbers recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, said organisers on Monday.

Now on at the Singapore Expo till Thursday, FHA-Food & Beverage has more than 2,000 exhibitors from 56 countries and regions this year.

More than 130 F&B companies are from Singapore, with booths at FHA's halal and food tech zones, wine and spirits trade fair ProWine Singapore, and the Singapore Pavilion.

Attendance is free but participants have to register beforehand.

While there was a drop this year in people who registered for the event from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, more visitors are expected from India, noted the event's director, Ms Janice Lee.

Also among the top 10 countries with people registering to attend are Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Demand for the show, which is being held for the first time since 2018, has been so strong that the event, previously a biennial affair, will be held annually from this year.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan noted that the figures are a sign that Singapore's Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry is recovering strongly.

"The strong participation rate from both local and global exhibitors demonstrates that Singapore continues to be a vibrant hub of exchange and business for the F&B industry in the region through such platforms," he said.

The European Union has a significant presence at FHA and will promote dairy, meat and processed agricultural products that are organic or are geographical indication (GI) products, which have qualities for which their geographical origins are famous.

This leverages on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which came into force on Nov 21, 2019, and removes nearly all customs duties between the two jurisdictions.

With Singapore looking to become a leading agri-food hub in Asia, Mr Tan said that the Government will partner food manufacturers here to further grow the industry.

He said this will be done through measures such as broadening the geographical coverage of trade agreements and deepening existing partnerships through digital and green economy agreements.

He added that there will also be greater collaboration, innovation and the sharing of resources and best practices between European and Singapore agri-food companies via programmes such as the EU-supported Global Foodture programme.

In response to consumer trends, this year's FHA also boasts a 1,400 sq m feature zone called Alternative Protein Asia (APA), which is dedicated to plant-based and food-technology alternatives to animal proteins.

FHA-Food & Beverage has more than 2,000 exhibitors from 56 countries and regions this year. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"APA came into the picture because the consumer has driven the industry to make the change and create new products... Consumers are now more health-conscious, and they care about things such as climate change and sustainability," said Ms Lee.

Last month, the Singapore Tourism Board said around 25 Mice events are being held around the Formula One race this year, and close to 90,000 delegates are expected to attend the events.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.