Irish agri-food businesses are showcasing their products at the Food and Hotel Asia trade fair in Singapore this week.
Over 2,000 exhibitors from 50 countries are taking part in the first show of its kind in the region since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event provides global suppliers with access to distributors, importers, manufacturers and retailers.
It also showcases developments and future trends in the food and beverage industry.
Among the Irish companies exhibiting on the Ireland stand, hosted by Bord Bia, are Tirlán, Lakeland Dairies, Silver Hill Duck, John Stone, ABP and QK Meats.
Several companies are present under the Premier Brands International (PBI) banner, including, Glenisk, Glenstal, Butler’s Chocolates and Golden Irish Eggs.
Following on from launching its new identity in Japan, Tirlán officially introduced itself to the market in Singapore on Monday (September 5).
Stephen Browne, head of international sales, told Agriland that it is fundamentally important to attend the trade show as Asia is the company’s biggest market for consumer and food service products.
Tirlán placed a particular emphasis on marketing its UHT long-life Avonmore cream range at the trade show, which it is selling across Asia.
“This is our first time coming out to the Asian market in three years. Some customers we’ve never even seen face to face. We’ve already met customers from Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
“China has been our main focus and it is still going really well but it’s very important that we build out,” he said.
“Even with these historically high dairy prices, we’re still seeing good demand and growth opportunities,” Browne added.
Conor Murray, sales manager with QK Meats, said that the company is aiming to increase its monthly export volume of mixed Irish meat products to Singapore to four containers per month.
The Kildare-based company has a well-established presence the Philippines and China.
Murray said that they are currently getting a lot of enquiries from foodservice customers in Singapore for lamb.
“We feel that Singapore is a great shopfront for your products. A lot of the major multinational companies have a base here, so you’re getting to meet decision makers face to face at last. You’re talking to the right person, you’re covering a lot of ground.
“If you’re coming to visit it’s one thing, but if you’re coming to exhibit, you’re putting your money where your mouth is. Customers do appreciate that.
“In terms of markets, it is quite profitable. If you get in with the right product, they will pay the price,” he said.
Des Hurley, sales development manager with Lakeland Dairies, outlined that the trade show was an ideal opportunity to renew and strengthen relationships with customers in the region after the pandemic.
The company, which processes over two billion litres of milk annually, mainly exports milk powders to Asia.
Butter exports have been impacted due to New Zealand pricing as it seeks buyers for surplus product.
Hurley said that he would “feel very bullish” about strong dairy prices into next year – “I don’t see where the major dips are going to come,” he commented.
David Dunne, business development manager with Glenstal, told Agriland that the company has focused on the southeast Asia market in recent years.
The company already has a customer base in the region through its dairy ingredients division and is growing its retail and foodservice division.
Glenstal sells Irish cheddar in Singapore and southeast Asia and is hoping to get its butter on supermarket shelves in Singapore.
“In the Middle East, we would be a very sought after cheese brand so we would be hoping to bring that here to southeast Asia also,” Dunne said.
Lorcan Connolly, business development manager with Butlers Chocolates, explained that they have been building familiarity with the brand among customers in the region in recent years.
“It’s getting much more familiar than it would have been five years ago. Much of that has been built through travel retail markets. Someone going on holidays to Hong Kong, Singapore or Malaysia, they would have seen our chocolates.
“But in the domestic markets we are much more of an exclusive product than we would be in Ireland. You won’t find us in every shop you go into, we’re only aiming for that premium, luxury retail sector,” he said.
Connolly said that the brand is growing in popularity in India and Saudi Arabia, he also believes that further gains can be made in the Chinese market.