American Food Players Bite Into Singapore’s Favourite Foods
SINGAPORE, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ — Top US retailers, suppliers and distributors, food services companies and food media were in Singapore recently as part of the annual business programme “Tasty Singapore Culinary Mission” (16-20 June 2008). They include Safeway, HEB, Westpoint, Food Services of America and Compass Group as well as Sigma Alimentos from Mexico and Sodexo Canada.
Organised by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the government agency promoting overseas growth of Singapore-based enterprises and international trade, this unique programme provides a platform for leading food & beverage (F&B) players from Americas to get an in-depth understanding of the diversity of Singapore’s culinary landscape, the capability of its F&B industry and to provide a platform to build a strong business network and alliance between both countries.
With this year’s theme of ‘Asian Flavours, International Quality’, participants visited various restaurants and food centers (hawkers) sampling a wide variety of Singapore cuisine and tried out Singapore-manufactured F&B products through cooking demonstrations, hands-on sessions and even through a cooking competition!
Said Robin Rhee from Korean Farm, “It has been an amazing experience. You really don’t understand what Asian fusion is until you come to Singapore, see the people, see the culture, see how it all intertwines together, especially at the hawker centers. I think IE and the people here did an exceptional job and I’ll definitely recommend the programme to anybody in the United States, especially those people who really have a lot of experience in the food industry.”
Agreed Jean Lee, Windsor Foods, “I’ve never been to a hawker center before and the fact that you have such a big variety and people were just sitting around and enjoying the food. And you have all these people cooking around us and the food just kept coming and we were trying all these different foods.”
The five-day programme included a conference and business meetings with Singapore food manufacturers, which are already retailing in or who have plans to expand into the U.S. Some of the products that got participants excited include Singapore’s famous chili crabs, Indian prata (a local version of the tortilla) and the piquant laksa sauce (a rich coconut-based gravy with herbs and spices).
Said Jeff Anderson, Safeway, “The thing that seems so unique to me was the versatility of the ingredients, the amazing depth of flavor, the balance of sweet, salty, sour and spiciness, the freshness and the vibrancy of the cuisine.”
Said James Ching, Center Director of IE Singapore’s New York office, “Situated at the cross-roads of Asia, Singapore cuisine is best described as the best of the Chinese, Malay and Indian food culture. Found in the cosmopolitan city-state, Singapore food is characterized by a diverse mix of cultural traditions, innovativeness in product development and dynamism of food influences and tastes. Consumer confidence is high as many of our manufacturers have attained the HACCP standards for their quality and safety in food processing or preparation.”
Last year, the US imported US$177.8 million worth of food from Singapore, an increase of 8% from 2006. Some examples of products available in the US include Chye Choon’s Peacock brand of rice vermicelli, Yeo’s Asian beverages, Tiger Beer and Asian Home Gourmet’s pre-mixes and sauces.
IE Singapore hopes that through such programmes which familiarize US food retailers and chefs with what Singapore has on the culinary front, more of Singapore’s food offerings and products will be available to American consumers.
Jeff Anderson, Safeway, continued, “I think Singapore has a very unique story. I would promote the culture, the blend in the culture, the seafood, the freshness and vibrant presentation of the food, the texture and the taste. I would like to introduce to other chefs the ingredients of Singapore to other chefs and let them incorporate the flavors of Singapore into their cuisines.”
Certainly there does appear to be a growing American appetite for Singapore food. In a poll of 1,000 American consumers in February 2008, more than half the respondents said they were willing to prepare a Singaporean meal at home with pre-packed ingredients. In addition, over 60% of respondents stated they were willing to pay an average of US$5.99 for a pre-packaged Singaporean meal.
Chris Ivens-Brown, Compass Group summed up his experience, “It’s been a fantastic experience! It has been a roller coaster experience the flavors, the people, the portion of food and the culture here is just mind blowing. The chefs were so innovative with Singapore dishes such as the chili crab and the black pepper crab.”
And in independent food and wine writer Deborah Grossman’s words, “I don’t want to leave the island because I haven’t eaten enough although I had about six meals a day and each meal got better and better and better! It all started out with Ya Kun when we had the toast with coconut jam and the cold butter. And the hawker market, I could just stay here all night and just go from stand to stand and eat and eat and eat. I love the John Bread (Roti John) which is like French toast but only better. The best part was when Jeff (Anderson) bought the bee hoon satay noodle which was a little spicy and very good.”
About the Singapore food manufacturing industry
Some 700 food manufacturing establishments in Singapore are engaged in various aspects of food production. More than half cater mainly to overseas markets. In 2007, total trade generated by the industry was US$11.6 billion, up from US$10 billion in the previous year. Of this, 40% was made up of exports to key markets like Japan, Malaysia, China, and Indonesia.
Annex 1: List of delegates Delegate Organisation About the organisation 1 Jon Shockey, Product ConAgra Foods One of the three largest food Development Chef companies in the US, the 12-billion dollar business is behind many of the most recognized packaged food brands in the industry. 2 Jeff McClure, Director Sodexo USA Applies restaurant-style that of Culinary Services/ focus on nutritious fresh food Exec Chef (Campus in markets like corporations, Division) health care, senior living and the education sectors. 3 Suman Roy, Executive Sodexo Canada Manages 760 units of F&B Chef services and facilities across Canada, offers fresh, nutritious meals catered to the ethnic, cultural and nutritional needs of their clients. 4 Richard Vernon, CEO West Point A signature grocery store with Market specialized departments and outstanding customer service, it offers gourmet selection of fresh foods and restaurant- quality prepared foods. 5 Jeff Anderson, VP Safeway Inc. A leading food and drug Culinary Exploration/ retailer in the US grocery Director Concept industry with an annual Development turnover of S$60.5 billion. 6 Greg Hoffman, Compass Group Market leader in providing food Corporate Chef of and a range of selected support R&D Training services. Operates in around 64 7 Chris Ivens-Brown, VP countries to corporate clients of Culinary including Sony, Boeing, IBM and Development Bank of America. 8 Lawrence Oates, Owner Kitchen Art - Offers a 4,000 square ft retail The Store for destination for gourmet Cooks kitchenware and specialty foods in Indiana state. Also offers wildly popular recreational cooking classes at its in-house culinary facility. 9 Chandra Ram, Culinary Plate Magazine A definitive source of creative Editor recipe and menu ideas for culinary professionals, the award-winning magazine goes out to 27,000 readers monthly. 10 Michelle Moran, Gourmet Retailer A leading trade publication for Executive Editor Magazine gourmet kitchenware product buyers and specialty grocers. Circulation reaches 25,000, with 37,000 unique visitors to its website per month. 11 Mike Callaghan, Food Services of One of US's largest full-line Director of Marketing America suppliers to the foodservice and Business industry, they deliver to Development clients ranging from fine dining restaurants to schools and military institutions. 12 Lisa Smith, Manager HEB Central A chain of European-inspired Business Development/ Market destination fresh markets, it Culinary also manages in-store 'Cafe on the Run' locations providing quality home cooking with the freshest ingredients. 13 Ken Jenner, Director Noodles & World's first quick-casual, of Culinary R&D Company globally inspired noodle restaurant, known for its fresh ingredients and nutritious menu inspired by a wide range of cuisines. 14 Jesus Lobo, Marketing Sigma (Mexico) Mexico's top producer of Manager for Food refrigerated and frozen foods, Preparations it also distributes leading 15 Jose Francisco Sainz, foreign F&B brands within the Key Account Manager country while exporting to the US and Latin America. 16 Deborah Grossman, Grossman Writing An independent food and wine Writer Services writer whose articles have been published in many food magazines, she also edits cookbooks. 17 Jason Henderson, Exec Applebee's Develops, franchises and Chef/Menu Development International, operates the Applebee's & Innovation Inc Neighborhood Grill and Bar (R) brand. With over 1,900 restaurants, it is the largest casual dining restaurant concept in the world. 18 Robin Rhee, Owner Korean Farm The west coast distribution center for Rhee Bros, Inc, one of the largest Asian food companies in the US. Supplies several large food manufacturers and restaurant chains like Heinz and Masterfoods. 19 Jean T. Lee, Director Windsor Foods Manufactures a full offering of R&D Company/Golden of Italian, Pan-Asian, Tiger Southern and Mexican food products. Its subsidiary Golden Tiger, is one of the largest suppliers of dim sum in the industry. 20 Paul Carr, Director of Aramark Offers fresh and creative Culinary Development Innovation culinary solutions and menu Center programs to a wide range of institutions and facilities. About International Enterprise Singapore
International Enterprise (IE) Singapore is an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry spearheading the development of Singapore’s external economic wing.
Our mission is to promote the overseas growth of Singapore-based enterprises and international trade. With a global network in over 30 locations and our “3C” framework of assistance — Connections, Competency, Capital, we offer services to help enterprises export, develop business capabilities, find overseas partners and enter new markets. At the same time, we work to position Singapore as a base for foreign businesses to expand into the region in partnership with Singapore-based companies. Please visit http://www.iesingapore.com/ for more information.
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