THE Food and Hotel Asia trade show, starting here next Tuesday, is set to be bigger than ever.
About 3,000 companies from 64 economies are expected to take part in the four-day event being held at the Singapore Expo.
And about 45,000 visitors from 90 countries are expected.
At a briefing, organisers stressed the need for Singapore food and beverage (F&B) firms to make inroads into foreign markets and innovate as the region moves to greater economic integration.
With the Asean Economic Community (AEC) on the way, local F&B companies can expect even tougher competition for supermarket space here, they said.
Mr Sunny Koh, chairman of the membership and industry groups function committee at the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), said: "All supermarkets have people knocking on their doors, offering new products daily. That door will become smaller and smaller as space is opened up for foreign products."
A record 75 Singapore F&B firms will be showcased in the Singapore Pavilion of FoodAsia, one of the show's speciality events, up from 66 in its last edition in 2012.
Mr Lee Yee Fung, group director for lifestyle business at International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, said the trade show was an important platform for the food industry, as Asia is a critical market for Singapore companies.
"The boom in Asian consumerism is one of the key trends that Singapore companies cannot afford to overlook."
Mr Lee said IE Singapore sees strong growth potential for Singapore firms in China and Indonesia. F&B exports to China reached $983 million last year. F&B exports to Indonesia, one of the fastest-growing markets for Singapore food companies, has had an average annual growth of 14 per cent over the past five years.
To help Singapore companies access overseas markets faster, SMF and IE Singapore have initiated several programmes, Mr Koh said.
For the first time, it is hosting a networking dinner for buyers and exhibitors at the show. It has also matched buyers to companies they are interested in and scheduled over 700 meetings for them.
Singapore's F&B exports grew at an average rate of almost 8 per cent over the past five years, reaching $7.1 billion last year. About 1,100 food manufacturers operate here.