Agricultural trade ties garner a boost

August 08, 2023 | 15:00
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Vietnam and Singapore are intensifying ties in the agricultural, aquatic, and foodstuff sector in a bid to expand bilateral trade.

Olam Global Agri Vietnam Co., Ltd, a Singaporean-invested buyer, processor, and exporter of rice in Vietnam, is hiring more labourers to strengthen its operation in the country.

“We started the aquafeed business in early 2023 in Vietnam, marking our entry into Asia’s integrated feed and protein space - one of the fastest growing markets in the world. We are targeting selected fish species with world-class product quality and technology. We work closely with farms, offering them support throughout the fish’s growth cycle from our trained teams of aqua farmers, nutrition managers, and technical services,” said an Olam representative.

This company is one of the largest rice merchants in Vietnam and a player in sustainable rice cultivation. It sources and supplies high-quality Vietnamese rice to over 20 countries, including Singapore, through its well-established supply chains - from sales to storage and distribution.

Agricultural trade ties garner a boost
Agricultural trade ties garner a boost, illustration photo/ Photo Le Toan

The Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore is working with FairPrice, a reputable Singaporean retailer, to bring more high-quality Vietnamese products to consumers, such peppercorn, fish, rice, vegetables, coffee, cashews, and rubber. Along with FairPrice, the office has also partnered with other supermarket chains in Singapore to tap the cooperation potential between the two sides in farm produce.

It is estimated that more than 600 kinds of Vietnamese agricultural products have been available on the shelves of the FairPrice supermarket chain.

Irving Lim Wei Lun, a representative of FairPrice, said that Singaporean consumers tend to prefer Vietnamese products, and have high demand for tropical fruits such as dragon fruit, coconut, and mango. Thus, to go deeply into this market, domestic businesses and exporters need to ensure the stability, quality and safety of their products.

“We still follow the supply chain from Vietnam to look for new products to show on the shelves of FairPrice. Thus, Vietnamese businesses and exporters should directly arrive in Singapore to discuss and study the local demand,” he said.

The close connection between the Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore and FairPrice is one of the results of the MoU signed between the two countries in February 2022.

According to the MoU, the two sides would develop activities for 2023, including deepening agri-trade cooperation through business matchmaking and facilitating Singaporean companies to invest in Vietnam’s agriculture and logistics sectors.

According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the country has strengths to promote exports such as rice, vegetables, fruits, and aquatic products.

In addition to products currently available at Singapore’s supermarket systems such as lychee, sapodilla, and passion fruit, Singapore is also interested in star apple, longan, custard apple, leafy green vegetables, okra, squash, and cucumbers.

The Singaporean market is also interested in high-quality seafood such as crayfish, lobster, grouper, and processed seafood.

Vietnam is the fourth-largest seafood exporter to Singapore, accounting for 12 per cent of Singapore’s total seafood imports from overseas partners. Vietnam’s frozen fish fillets and processed fish always maintain a market share of over 20 per cent in the city-state.

In a specific case, Vietnamese-backed TH Group is boosting its foodstuff products to Singapore. In March 2022, TH and HAO Mart, a leading retail supermarket system in Singapore, signed an MoU on strategic cooperation on consuming and promoting TH’s fresh milk products, foodstuffs, and organic agricultural products in the Singaporean market.

TH has also cooperated with distributor L’earth Group to expand its markets to both Singapore and Malaysia. Both groups once launched a Singapore-Vietnam foodstuff exchange, applicable to e-commerce platforms, retail stores, and supermarkets in both countries.

According to the MoIT, in the first half of this year, the total import-export turnover between the two countries was $2.06 billion. In June only, the bilateral import-export value was $370 million.

The room for this market is large because Singapore has plans to diversify the import markets to avoid dependence on agricultural products from China and Malaysia, according to the Singapore Food Agency.

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