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Singapore Food Imports: Tips for exporting in Asia’s most competitive economy

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Singapore, also known as the Lion City, is an extremely attractive Asian market which imports more than 90% of its food from producers from more than 160 countries worldwide.

Best Food Importers recently published tips for exporting in Asia’s most competitive economy.

The city state’s population of around 5.6 million benefits from a very diverse supply of food, thanks mostly to the Government’s successful policies that encouraged the development of partnerships with a wide range of countries that export food. Recently, for example, Singapore’s Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) organised a number of trade missions which led to imports of fresh fruit from producers from Central Europe and South Africa or meat from Denmark.

The country is actively looking to diversify and solidify the internal food supply, opening the road for food exporters from other parts of the world who are willing to focus on working with food importers and retailers from Singapore.

The retailer option

Initiating talks with some of Singapore’s main food retailers – Dairy Farm International (Cold Storage, Giant), Sheng Siong Group or Fairprice can be a good initial strategy for market entry. The retailers often act as direct importers, especially for larger volumes of products, which have long shelf life. They sometimes also have representatives who take part in trade missions or visit industry specific fairs, looking for new product lines and niche items.

Working with food importers and distributors is another approach, and companies are advised to try to focus on one solid partnership that can develop long-term, considering Singapore’s relatively small size.

Main imports

Food has a very important role in the life of many Singaporeans and the diverse ethnic mix in the city state has also created an amazing food culture. Meat, especially pork is present in a large number of dishes, as well as fish. Singapore imports most of its fish and seafood from the region, from Indonesia, Thailand or Malaysia, while pork is imported from 29 countries which are currently approved by AVA. Countries like Canada, the US, Brazil or the Netherlands are among the top exporters. Australia is also one of Singapore’s main trade partners for a variety of food items, including meat, dairy, vegetables, processed as well as organic foods.

Fruits like watermelons, bananas or oranges are mainly imported from Malaysia, China and the USA, while the top sources of vegetables are again Malaysia, China and Australia.

The country’s slowly ageing population has also increased the demand for ready meals, easy to cook and other convenience foods.

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