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 yesterday.
The three-day event features over 80 exhibitors showcasing some 200 brands from across Asia as they seek to market healthy, organic and halal food to 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, FairPrice and Sheng Siong are among the buyers sourcing for products at the exhibition.
With the global healthy and natural food market expected to be worth US$345.2 billion (S$469.2 billion) by next year, 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 about shifting from the taste of white rice," said Mr Peng Jingkai, co-founder of Golden Sunland, the company behind The Little Rice.
Also growing rapidly is the halal food market, which is expected to reach US$2.55 trillion globally by 2024. "Other than for 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.
Said Ms Wang Weiping, director of plant-based food company Hucklebee: "There were growing requests for halal-certified, no-preservative foods so we chose to source more of such items," she said. These include shikuwasa (citrus fruit) drinks from Okinawa and Serbian fruit jams.
The exhibition at Sands Expo and Convention Centre is open to trade visitors only, and expects to see 8,000 visitors from 46 countries.