Healthy, natural and halal food converge at Superfood Asia 2019

SINGAPORE - Low glycaemic index (GI) brown rice that tastes like white rice, and halal Japanese food and Korean ginseng capsules, were among the food products on display at the inaugural Superfood Asia 2019 exhibition which opened on Wednesday (April 24).

The three-day event features over 80 exhibitors bringing in more than 200 brands from across Asia eager to market healthy, organic and halal food in Singapore and the region.

"There is a growing interest, especially among the younger generation, in healthy and natural foods," said Mr Chua Wee Phong, executive chairman of Sphere Exhibits, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings which organised the exhibition.

"They are conscious of what food is beneficial to their bodies," he added.

Supermarket chains like Cold Storage, NTUC Fairprice and Sheng Siong are among the buyers sourcing for such products at the exhibition.

With the global healthy and natural food market expected to be worth US$345.2 billion (S$469.3 billion) by 2020, brands such as The Little Rice Company are trying to push their products into the market in an innovative way.

The local brand cross-breeds rice grains to produce low GI brown rice that tastes lighter and finer than typical brown rice. "People are aware brown rice is healthier, but some are still uncertain to shift from the taste of white rice," said Mr Peng Jingkai, co-founder of Golden Sunland, the company behind The Little Rice.

Another rapidly growing market is the halal food sector, which is anticipated to reach US$2.55 trillion globally by 2024, and caters not only to the Muslim community.

"Other than religious purposes, there are people who prefer halal food because they recognise the way such commodities are processed," said Ms Koh Shiang Chyi, head of business, food sector, at Exhibits Inc, which is under Sphere.

To meet this increasing demand, Ms Wang Weiping, director of plant-based food company Hucklebee, has pushed for more of her products to be halal-certified.

"There were growing requests for halal-certified no-preservative foods, so we chose to source more of such items," said Ms Wang. This includes shikuwasa (citrus fruit) drinks from Okinawa, and Serbian fruit jams. "There is definitely an increasing demand for halal-certified products."

The exhibition at Sands Expo and Convention Centre is open to trade visitors only, and expects to see 8,000 such visitors from 46 countries over three days.