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New website, app to help Singapore food manufacturers catch overseas buyers: Koh Poh Koon

SEVERAL initiatives to help local food manufacturers innovate and expand overseas were announced on Tuesday by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Dr Koh Poh Koon.

The first is a website developed by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and Innovative Hub to bring the Singapore Pavilion at industry tradeshow Food & Hotel Asia 2018 (FHA 2018) to the Alibaba portal, and to help connect local businesses and overseas buyers beyond FHA 2018.

The second is the launch of the SMF SMART app, an online business-to-business (B2B) platform developed by SMF and technology company i-Sprint Innovations, which consolidates orders for overseas buyers and has features like traceability and authentication of products through QR code and IT security technology.

Dr Koh also added that the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) is working with major food suppliers like Australian Fruit Juice, Globe Mart, Indoguna, Vismark, and Win Sin to guide their food and beverage SME clients through the digitalisation process using a B2B e-sourcing platform developed by Zeemart.

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Through Zeemart's platform, food service operators can streamline the procurement and sourcing of food supplies, helping them to achieve cost savings of around 5 per cent to 15 per cent from improved operational efficiencies, Dr Koh said.

"These examples clearly how strong partnerships can multiply our strengths, and provide better support for our local SMEs to improve capabilities and capture opportunities overseas," Dr Koh said, adding that strong partnerships must continue to be formed between the government, industry stakeholders and trade associations and chambers (TACs).

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of Food & Hotel Asia 2018 (FHA 2018), a tradeshow held every two years dedicated to the food and hospitality industry in Asia.

Held at the Singapore Expo and Suntec Singapore from Tuesday to Friday, this year's iteration features 119,500 square metres of exhibition space and counts some 4,000 international exhibitors from over 70 countries and regions.

Dr Koh said businesses must continue to take the lead to embrace new technologies, innovate and internationalise, to capture the strong growth potential in the region.

"With rapid technological developments, it is critical for companies to embrace new technologies to stay ahead of the curve. Such technologies can be leveraged to redesign work processes, reduce manpower needs, and improve customer experience.

"This in turn can help improve profitability and productivity," he said.

Enterprise Singapore, the government agency spearheading enterprise development, will also continue to strengthen Singapore's international standing as a leader in food safety and quality, Dr Koh stated.

In his opening speech at Suntec Convention Centre, Dr Koh added that innovation is also critical for businesses to better differentiate their offerings and gain market share.

"Today, innovation begins at the farm level, in a crucial move to address traceability and strengthen food safety from farm to fork," Dr Koh said, highlighting the eight Singapore farms which are exhibiting at the show under the banner of Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation (SAFEF).

SAFEF is an association aimed at enhancing local sourcing and sustainability as well as helping to increase competitiveness and drive exports of Singapore agri-food products.