Singapore food companies should look to overseas markets to grow, says Chan Chun Sing

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing speaks at the annual Food Expo at the Singapore Expo on May 31, 2019.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing speaks at the annual Food Expo at the Singapore Expo on May 31, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Singapore food companies must continue to innovate, create new products and set their eyes overseas if they want to grow, says Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

In a speech at the opening of the Singapore Food Expo 2019 on Friday (May 31), Mr Chan said: "If we will continue to innovate, create new products constantly from the cross-pollination of ideas across the different food traditions that we have, we will stand up amongst the crowd."

He also urged companies to look beyond Singapore adding that the Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association (SFMA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) can help local food companies penetrate overseas markets.

"There is a lot of work that we still need to do in this area to help our companies to penetrate the overseas market, even the regional markets, and we will need to spend the time and effort to understand other people's taste, distribution channels and regulatory channels," said Mr Chan.

He added that the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) can also play a part in helping companies reach out to overseas counterparts.

"When MTI goes around to discuss about Free Trade Agreements with other countries, we don't just talk about the tariffs and the reduction of tariffs. We also talk about the non-tariffs. By lowering the non-tariff barriers, we can help our food industries penetrate overseas markets."

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

"We compete on the basis of innovation, quality and standards...we have a brand of trust. When people buy things from Singapore, they see the little red Merlion and they know that it is a mark that they can trust."

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

Organised by the SFMA the annual fair received over 500,000 visitors last year and organisers expect to hit similar visitor numbers this year.

Located at the Singapore Expo, Hall 4, the fair started on Friday (May 31) and will end on June 4. Entry is free.