Local food brands should look overseas to grow: Chan Chun Sing

Visitors buying items at the Singapore Food Expo. This year's event features more than 130 local food brands, such as Swatow Seafood, Bee Cheng Hiang and Yummi House.
Visitors buying items at the Singapore Food Expo. This year's event features more than 130 local food brands, such as Swatow Seafood, Bee Cheng Hiang and Yummi House.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Singapore food companies must continue to innovate, create new products and set their sights overseas if they want to grow, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at the opening of an annual food fair yesterday.

"If we continue to innovate, create new products constantly from the cross-pollination of ideas across the different food traditions that we have, we will stand out among the crowd," Mr Chan said, adding that organisations such as the Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association (SFMA) and Enterprise Singapore can help local food companies penetrate overseas markets.

The newly created Singapore Food Agency (SFA) can also play a part in helping firms reach out to overseas counterparts, he said.

When discussing free trade agreements with other countries, he added, "we don't just talk about the tariffs and the reduction of tariffs".

Instead, he said, such discussions are also about how to lower barriers to trade, other than those created by tariffs.

Mr Chan said that although it is difficult for Singapore food companies to compete globally in terms of price and scale, the Singapore brand is a trusted one.

"When people buy things from Singapore, they see the little red Merlion and they know that it is a mark that they can trust," he said.

 
 

The Singapore Food Expo 2019, one of the Republic's largest food fairs, features more than 130 local food companies, including restaurant Swatow Seafood, bak kwa brand Bee Cheng Hiang and honey chain Yummi House.

Organised by the SFMA, the fair received more than 500,000 visitors last year. It is now open to visitors at the Singapore Expo, Hall 4, and ends Tuesday. Entry is free.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2019, with the headline 'Local food brands should look overseas to grow: Chan'. Print Edition | Subscribe