Expanding export opportunities for California’s farmers, ranchers and food processors is a priority for me as I visit Singapore and South Korea as part of a U.S. trade delegation focusing on trade, market access and promotions.
During my time in Singapore, I have had the opportunity to meet with foreign trade associations, companies and media promoting California as a supplier of high value and quality food products and as a spectacular tourism destination with a diversity of food and wine experiences. California is uniquely positioned to meet Singapore’s growing demand for innovative and quality products. As a nation with little domestic food production, Singapore relies on foreign imports and is an important hub for all of southeast Asia.
More than 10 California companies are participating in the Food and Hotel Asia trade show this week which will draw more than 50,000 attendees from southeast Asia. A wide range of California products including lamb, olives, and dried plums is represented. The California Milk Advisory Board is also on hand to develop export sales within the food service sector through sampling, demonstrations and by connecting dairy farmers with interested foreign buyers.
At the opening day of the show I met with a new importing company from Thailand that has, within four short years, increased shipments of California table grapes from 15 to more than 200 containers per year. On a tour of food retailers, we learned about the good reputation our products enjoy, consumer awareness in Asia of food safety practices, and growing demand for organic produce and baby food. One specialty retailer offers only organic food and personal care products, receiving bi-weekly air freight shipments of high value organic milk. We also had a meeting with a fresh fruit and vegetable association whose members want more California products for the Singapore and southeast Asia markets.
With California’s agricultural diversity, quality and willingness to do business – Singapore and Southeast Asia represent great opportunities for California’s farmers, ranchers and food processors.