Middle East Enjoys a Taste of the South East
Singapore food manufacturers anticipate growth in exports to Middle East as region’s appetite for Southeast Asian cuisine grows
Dubai, UAE, 20 February 2011
International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the lead government agency promoting international trade and Singapore companies’ growth overseas, has recorded promising growth in food exports to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% from 2008 to 2010. This promising export growth is a strong reflection of the growing interest for Southeast Asian flavours in the Middle East.
This trend is in line with IE Singapore’s strategy to encourage more Singapore food manufacturers to explore business opportunities in the Middle East. One of the key platforms to profile the Singapore food manufacturers will be Gulfood 2011, where the Singapore Pavilion will be featured across Hall 7 & Hall 9.
Southeast Asian restaurants are also becoming an increasingly popular choice for diners in the Middle East. In the UAE, for example, restaurants like Jumeirah Group’s, the noodle house, Pepper Crab at the Grand Hyatt and Saffron at Atlantis The Palm are becoming popular choices for the country’s Arab, Indian and western expatriate diners. The noodle house also recently expanded via licensing agreements to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt.
Lloyd Carter, Executive Development Chef from the noodle house comments: “I think Singapore’s distinctive fusion cooking style really appeals to a globally influenced palate. Our food reflects the country’s rich multicultural heritage, combining Chinese with Malay, Indian and British flavours. It offers a truly unique culinary experience.”
Singapore’s world renowned lawyer-cum-masterchef, Willin Low, echoes Lloyd’s comments. “I think Singaporean chefs are in the best position to understand taste profiles of global ingredients and be able to meld the flavours together,” he said.
Chef Willin recently visited the UAE for Gourmet Abu Dhabi 2011 where he hosted the first charity dinner for the annual food festival at Teatro, Park Rotana Abu Dhabi. There, guests sampled Low's well-practised modern Singaporean cuisine; a style which he says offers a reinterpretation of classical taste with an avant-garde twist.
“Being in Singapore is a great blessing because I appreciated good Chinese, Malay and Indian food as a child and, when I got older, I was exposed to Japanese, French, Italian and Thai cuisine. I hope to bring that slice of modern Singapore to the charity dinner; something familiar and western with something different and Asian,” he added.
With the UAE and other Gulf countries moving to position themselves as culinary destinations of the world, Singapore has also stepped up its promotional campaign in the region. Singapore Takeout, an initiative supported by IE Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board and Spring Singapore, is an innovative popup restaurant that will traverse the world over the course of 2011 and 2012. Dubai is one of the nine gourmand cities selected to host the culinary event. Singapore Takeout will be housed in a shipping container and will transform to reveal live cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs. Prominent Singaporean culinary personalities will collaborate with local guest chefs from each country to design and create a menu that incorporates the best of both cuisines in order to appeal to the market's dining preferences.
“Singapore prides itself on being a foodie destination, but more recently Singapore has been very active in exporting our culinary expertise and food products across the globe. In 2010, the Middle East is the 6th largest export market (AED627 million) for Singapore food manufacturers. The GCC region is the 10th largest export market (AED394.74 million) for Singapore food manufacturers, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar among the top performing countries. High quality food service and products, combined with our stringent food safety standards, halal-certification and ease of doing business are key factors in this success,” said Dean Tan, Centre Director of IE Singapore’s overseas centre in Dubai.
At this year’s Gulfood, taking place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from 27th February to 2nd March, the Singapore pavilion will span across two halls under Tasty Singapore, an encompassing brand for the Singapore food industry.
First launched in 2004, Tasty Singapore is an initiative by International Enterprise (IE), Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA) and the Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation (SMa), with the support of the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) and SPRING Singapore – a government agency that helps to develop local small and medium-sized enterprises. Through Tasty Singapore, Singapore food players have a collective brand identity for both manufacturing and F&B companies when they venture overseas.
About the Singapore food manufacturing industry
Over 700 Singapore food manufacturing players are engaged in various aspects of food production, with over half catering mainly to overseas markets. Some S$2 billion, or 49%, of Singapore’s food domestic exports was made up of exports to key markets like Japan, China, Malaysia and Indonesia. In 2010, Singapore’s total food domestic exports amounted to S$4.04 billion, up 15.07% from S$3.51 billion on year.