Irish food companies are showcasing their products at Food and Hotel Asia in Singapore this week.
More than 2,000 exhibitors from 50 countries are taking part in the first show of its kind since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event provides global suppliers with access to distributors, importers, manufacturers and retailers.
It also presents the developments and future trends in the food and beverage industry.
Irish companies exhibiting at the Irish stand, hosted by Bord Bia, include Tirlán, Lakeland Dairies, Silver Hill Duck, John Stone, ABP, QK Meats.
Several companies operate under the Premier Brands International (PBI) banner, including Glenisk, Glenstal, Butler’s Chocolates and Golden Irish Eggs.
After launching its new identity in Japan, Tirlán officially entered the Singapore market on Monday September 5th.
Stephen Browne, Tirlán’s international sales manager, said Agriland that it is fundamentally important to attend the show because Asia is the company’s largest market for consumer and foodservice products.
Tirlán placed particular emphasis on marketing its line of shelf-stable Avonmore UHT creams at the show, which it sells throughout Asia.
“This is the first time we have entered the Asian market in three years. Some customers we never even saw face to face. We have already met customers from Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
“China has been our main focus and it’s still going very well, but it’s very important that we grow,” he said.
“Even with these historically high dairy prices, we still see good demand and growth opportunities,” Browne added.
Conor Murray, sales director at QK Meats, said the company was aiming to increase its monthly export volume of mixed Irish meat products to Singapore to four containers a month.
The Kildare-based company has a well-established presence in the Philippines and China.
Murray said they are currently receiving many inquiries from restaurant customers in Singapore for the lamb.
“We think Singapore is a great showcase for your products. A lot of big multinationals have a base here, so you finally meet decision-makers face to face. You’re talking to the right person, you’re covering a lot of ground.
“If you come to visit it’s one thing, but if you come to exhibit, you put your money where your mouth is. Customers appreciate that.
“In terms of markets, it’s quite profitable. If you get the right product, they will pay the price,” he said.
Des Hurley, director of sales development at Lakeland Dairies, said the show was an ideal opportunity to renew and strengthen relationships with customers in the region post-pandemic.
The company, which processes more than two billion liters of milk per year, mainly exports milk powders to Asia.
Butter exports have been hit due to New Zealand prices as it seeks buyers for the surplus product.
Hurley said he would “feel very optimistic” about high dairy prices next year – “I don’t see where the major declines are going to be,” he commented.
David Dunne, business development manager at Glenstal Foods, said Agriland that the company has been focusing on Southeast Asia market in recent years.
The company already has a customer base in the region through its dairy ingredients division and is expanding its retail and restaurant division.
Glenstal sells Irish cheddar in Singapore and Southeast Asia and hopes to get its butter on Singapore supermarket shelves.
“In the Middle East, we would be a very sought-after brand of cheese, so we hope to bring it here to Southeast Asia as well,” Dunne said.
Lorcan Connolly, business development manager at Butlers Chocolates, explained that they have become familiar with the brand from customers in the area in recent years.
“It’s becoming a lot more familiar than it would have been five years ago. Much of this has been built on travel retail markets. Anyone going on holiday to Hong Kong, Singapore or Malaysia would have seen our chocolates.
“But in domestic markets we are much more of an exclusive product than we would be in Ireland. You won’t find us in every store you go to, we’re just targeting that high-end, luxury retail sector,” he said.
Connolly said the brand is gaining popularity in India and Saudi Arabia, he also believes further gains can be made in the Chinese market.