25 April 18 The Business Times by WONG KAI YI
SEVERAL initiatives to help local food manufacturers innovate and expand overseas were unveiled on Tuesday by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry 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 trade show 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. The app consolidates orders for overseas buyers and has features like traceability and authentication of products through QR code and IT security technology.
Dr Koh, who is also Senior Minister of State for National Development, was speaking at the opening of FHA 2018.
He said the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) is working with major food suppliers such as Australian Fruit Juice, Globe Mart, Indoguna, Vismark and Win Sin to guide their clients - small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and beverage sector - through the digitalisation process using a B2B e-sourcing platform developed by Zeemart. Through this platform, food-service operators can streamline the procurement and sourcing of food supplies, and achieve cost savings of between five and 15 per cent in the process, he said.
"These examples clearly show that strong partnerships can multiply our strengths, and provide better support for our local SMEs to improve capabilities and capture opportunities overseas."
He added that strong partnerships must continue to be forged among the government, industry stakeholders and trade groups and chambers.
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 continue to strengthen Singapore's international standing as a leader in food safety and quality, he said.
In his speech, Dr Koh added that innovation is also critical for businesses to better differentiate their offerings and gain market share.
Highlighting the eight Singapore farms which are exhibitors at the show under the banner of Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation (SAFEF), he said: "Today, innovation begins at the farm level, in a crucial move to address traceability and strengthen food safety from farm to fork."
This year's iteration of the FHA, a biennial trade show dedicated to the food and hospitality industry in Asia, is being held at the Singapore Expo and Suntec Singapore.
Lasting till Friday, it features 119,500 sq m of exhibition space and counts some 4,000 international exhibitors from more than 70 countries and regions.