Singapore firms eye bigger agricultural imports from PH

Growing demand for fresh, processed food

By: Riza T. Olchondra, May 16th, 2013 09:59 PM

Singapore is seeking more agricultural imports from the Philippines amid growing demand for fresh and processed food in the city-state, Singaporean and Philippine officials said during a trade meeting in Pasay City.

Lam-Chan Lee Tiang, senior specialist of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore, said the city-state has been importing shallots and a few other food items but wanted more fresh and processed food products from the Philippines.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the Philippines has the land and manpower to produce quality food products and in fact has surplus output on certain items. Alcala told reporters that the group of Singapore buyers have visited Baguio City and were interested in importing upland vegetables.

Tomorrow, the Singapore delegation would visit farms in Davao, Alcala said.

“We are checking supply to ensure that it can be sustained. Aside from fresh fruits and vegetables, they also want processed food,” Alcala said. “We also have to get the packaging right.”

He added that the government would make arrangements so that it could guarantee supply from the local farmer-exporters. The government would also try to provide incentives to the Philippine farmer-exporters or to the Singapore buyers.

Among the new imports that Singapore buyers want are fruit products such as yellow dragon fruit and durian. Alun Zhou, managing director of trade firm 101 Fruits, said his company has been importing fruits such as durian from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia but wanted to start sourcing the product from the Philippines.

Commercial Counsellor Glenn Peñaranda of the Philippine embassy in Singapore) said the city-state imported about $100 million worth of food products from the Philippines a year.

Lim Xiu Qing Joyce, executive manager of overseas food supply of AVA, said there was a big room for growth since vegetable imports from the Philippines comprised only about 7 percent of the city-state’s imports while fruits comprised about 1 percent.

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