It was a challenge to try to take in everything at the Food and Hotel Asia 2016 (FHA) in Singapore, Asia’s biggest food and beverage trade show. Held over four days in April, there was much to see, taste, learn and do.
Many events were happening at the same time to lure you away from the main event filling the Singapore Expo’s 10 halls with over 3,000 exhibitors from over 70 countries.
Of these, 900 were new exhibitors and there were four new group pavilions from Algeria, Hungary, Morocco and Poland, a sign of FHA’s continued healthy growth, even after two decades.
Going around sampling the food and drinks on offer from around the world is probably the funnest thing to do especially if you are a foodie – from Valsana’s excellent artisanal Italian cheeses to wine-flavoured Gongfu salted duck egg from Taiwan and a “thoughtful ice cream” from Foxy among thousands of offerings.
From the United States, Foxy launched what it believes is a world first, a super premium ice cream that is “almost the perfect probiotic delivery system”. Foxy is sugar-reduced and replaced with organic inulin, a sweetener and a prebiotic. Loaded with prebiotics and probiotics, it comes in flavours such as “rocky road less travelled” and “gluten-free cookie dough”.
“Launching at FHA in Singapore makes perfect sense – the region of the world known for leading dietary trends and early uptake of new ideas,” said Thomas Scruby, Foxy’s commercial director for Asia.
The FHA is also a good place to zoom in on food and beverage and kitchen equipment trends. For example, whole apple juicers have become commonplace but most of us still cut or peel oranges when juicing. Enter the Spanish Zumex, a whole citrus fruit juicer for cafe and commercial use in various sizes that can juice from 12 to 40 oranges per minute.
What will tables be wearing in 2016? According to Schonwald, German manufacturer of premium porcelain tableware, the decorative style encapsulated in their Shabby Chic range is the new blue. The design, in shades of fadeout blue recalls denim, signalling the pared down approach to dining now.
“We have been getting very positive response from the horeca sector for this design since its launch in February so we could be seeing the start of a more decorative trend in tableware,” said Kerstin Schutz.
Where are we heading in coffee trends? We found the answer at FHA’s Speciality Coffee & Tea event. The island is straddling between the second and third wave, in coffeespeak.
Progress is slow, lamented barista trainer Danny Pang of Singapore’s Barista Craft.
“We are trying to go to third wave, and if you ask me if third wave has sunk in, I would say ask any cafe if specialty coffee like single origins and pour overs contribute to revenue.
“If they can tell you that it contributes 30%, than I’ll tell you they have hit the third wave. If they are doing around 5-10% of total revenue, they are not there yet.
“It is not their fault, as the consumer market is not there yet – because people still love their good looking, well-poured latte art cafe latte or cappuccino.”
One way to move into third wave, according to Pang, is to use single origin beans to make the espresso-based cappuccinos. In third wave, cafes must serve specialty coffees like pour overs.
“If not, you are just a typical second wave cafe, an espresso bar. The real culture comes in if it becomes a daily routine. If single origin is a luxury or even an affordable luxury, then third wave is not really part of the culture yet. It is a culture when it is no longer a trend.”
Specialty coffee appreciation takes time, he said. But there will be a tipping point and you will see the fourth wave coming. That is when independent cafes, not necessarily chains, will want to roast their own coffee.
The Tasty Singapore pavilion provides plenty of possibilities for Malaysian trade buyers looking for attractive, innovative products close to the people’s hearts.
With the support and nurturing given to the local food sector by the government in recent years, the Singapore pavilion was buzzing with a new sense of confidence.
With institutional help, traditional food companies are innovating to meet the demands of a world market, producing cleaner and more wholesome products. FHA shone the spotlight on the local SMEs this year.
At TSK or Tan Seng Kee Foods, a family business manufacturing wheat and rice-based fresh noodles using a recipe handed down from their grandmother since 1936, innovation came in the form of a two-year R&D project in 2010 headed by third-gen entrepreneur Raymond Tan and supported by Spring, the government’s enterprise development agency. TSK is the first fresh noodle company to be HACCP certified by SGS Singapore and is also halal certified (MUIS).
At FHA it launched its Kang Kang Express Meal Kit range of fresh pasteurised noodles with local flavours like prawn mee, curry mee and laksa. The company’s patented pasteurisation technology kills bacteria to produce a long-life fresh noodle product – one month at room temperature and six months chilled – that is a game changer in the industry. It’s preservative-free and made using minimal oil, a fact that should sit well with health-conscious Asians. Tastewise, it keeps the bouncy texture so desired in noodles and has a more neutral flavour.
Touting another first in the world is Tee Yih Jia Food company which has added a frozen hargow crystal skin to its range of oriental dumpling wrappers including wonton skin, gyoza skin and Peking duck wrapper.
The translucent, stretchy dough allows you to make hargow quickly and easily at home or in restaurants with a consistent thickness and quality. Tastewise, it is nothing to shout about but it meets industrial needs. The product is HACCP and halal compliant.
For industrial food with great taste, there is Bobo’s range of bouncy meat and fish balls produced by Ha Li Fa Pte Ltd. Going from a traditional producer to HACCP, ISO 9002 and halal compliant, it uses first grade wolf herring and yellowtail tuna to make the products.
From plain balls to filled with cheese, potato, BBQ sauce and curry, they are innovative and right down delicious. The oozing centre virtually makes them self-saucing balls.
There’s also a Sakura range using Japanese lactobacilius technology to break down long chain proteins into more bioavailable shorter chain proteins. Their ready-to-eat sausages are another innovation.
If you haven’t discovered the potent powers of the black garlic, it’s good to know that Singapore’s Defu Foodstuff has the black gold. Garlic lover Low Gim Noi has made the black garlic, both a health and gourmet product praised for its sweet, balsamic vinegar-like taste, mild garlic flavour and creamy, melt-in-mouth texture her passion.
FHA is also where the best young chefs in the region come in search of glory. Alongside the trade fair, a host of competitions took place. The Asian Pastry Cup 2016 saw Singapore emerging as champion. It was not the heat of the battle that caused a meltdown but the weather – the chocolate showpieces kept melting!
Team Malaysia snagged the silver and Team India, the gold – syabas to the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia and India who formed the two teams. Malaysia also won for Best Chocolate Cake and India, Best Chocolate Showpiece.
The icing on the cake was the presence of celebrity pastry chef Pierre Herme who served as International President of the Jury.
Doing Malaysia proud was also Sam Tan Sze Yuin of Discover Coffee who won the FHA Barista Challenge, beating Hong Kong and Japan. Malaysia also participated in the Gourmet Team Challenge and new Sweet High Tea Challenge. The Gourmet Team Challenge was won by Taiwan and the High Tea Chal-lenge, Raffles Hotel Singapore.
Over at Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific, Japan took the main trophy with Singapore in second place.
This new addition to FHA was an independent wine show organised in collaboration with Messe Dusseldorf Asia. The fledgling event located in Hall 10 was a baby model of ProWein Dusseldorf.
It brought together 257 exhibitors from 30 countries and is quickly seen as a “new trade fair in Singapore”, attracting 8,285 attendees from 44 countries.
Managing director of Messe Dusseldorf Asia, Gernot Ringling was quoted as saying in Show Daily, the official paper of FHA that “the success of ProWine Asia is a validation that we are meeting an important market need”.
He sees Singapore as a growing trading hub for wine producers, importers and distributors serving the South-East Asian region. The region, together with the rest of Asia, will remain “a key region for the long term development of the global alcohol market,” he said.
Across the region, demand for alcoholic beverages is on the rise, driven by rapid economic growth, urbanisation and globalisation. The Millennials are seen as “consuming more beverages but have little brand loyalty, opting for variety and preferring to experiment with different types of beverages”, according to a ProWine Asia press release.
“This group of consumers are also looking for authenticity, hip and modern packaging and are heavily influenced by social media, word-of-mouth and sustainability issues.”
ProWine Asia then is meeting this market need.
The glitz at ProWine Asia 2016 was surely the Champagne Lounge – touted as Asia’s first – where one could taste bubblies from some 10 champagne houses. Dressed all in white, it had an exclusive air about it.
Making a stylish debut splash at the Lounge was Angel Champagne, drawing the crowds with its captivating design of a pair of angel wings on white, black and green bottles. The Asian distributor, LiquidFX, is based in Selangor, but significantly, chose to make its Asian debut in Singapore.
Also making its Asia debut at ProWine Asia was Ratafia de Champagne, a unique champagne liqueur by Aime Cartier Champagne. To enjoy, take a sip of Aime Cartier Champagne, a sip of Ratafia then another sip of champagne. Novelty will get you everywhere in Asia, especially among Millennials.
Another eye-catching booth was Vins de Provence’s huge display of rose wines from the south of France, a wine style that is easily suited to the food of Asia with its light and fruity notes, but still considered “undervalued” and “underappreciated” in this part of the world and elsewhere – two words that should catch the attention of shrewd buyers looking for value for money buys.