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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 1:22 EDT

American Food Players Bite Into Singapore’s Favourite Foods

August 14, 2008

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.

Note to Editor

Please use ‘IE Singapore’ or ‘IE’ if an acronym for ‘International Enterprise Singapore’ is required. In addition, unless otherwise stated, the use of statistics cited in our media releases, website or Statlink, should be attributed to IE Singapore.

   For media enquiries, please contact:    Singapore   Ms Celine Sim   Assistant Manager   Corporate Communications Group   International Enterprise Singapore   Tel: + 65 6433 4815   Mobile : + 65 9760 9288   Fax : + 65 6337 8136   Email:celine_sim@iesingapore.gov.sg    United States   Mr James Ching   Center Director, New York Office   International Enterprise Singapore   Email james_ching@iesingaapore.gov.sg    Mr Sunil Sabnani   Center Director, Los Angeles Office   International Enterprise Singapore   Email sunil_sabnani@iesingapore.gov.sg  

IE Singapore

CONTACT: In Singapore, Ms Celine Sim, Assistant Manager, CorporateCommunications Group, +65-6433-4815, or Mobile, +65-9760-9288, or Fax,+65-6337-8136, celine_sim@iesingapore.gov.sg; In the United States, Mr JamesChing, Center Director, New York Office, International Enterprise Singapore,james_ching@iesingaapore.gov.sg, or Mr Sunil Sabnani, Center Director, LosAngeles Office, International Enterprise Singapore,sunil_sabnani@iesingapore.gov.sg, all of International Enterprise Singapore

Web site: http://www.iesingapore.com/