CIIE: A Showcase for Singapore Products in China

Singapore firm Tai Hua found a market for its soya sauce in China with the help of the China International Import Expo.

Selling soya sauce to China, the country known for inventing this popular condiment, is always going to be a challenge for any company who wants to venture into this industry. Tai Hua Food Industries, a household brand in Singapore, is well-known for its stringent food safety and hygiene standards, as well as high-quality soya sauce products with no detectable 3-MCPD – an organic chemical compound that could potentially cause cancer.

Founded in 1947 by the late Mr Pek Cheng Chuan, the family business has grown to become the market leader in the manufacturing and distribution of soya sauces in Singapore. Today, TAIHUA brand sauces, which include condiments and ready-to-cook sauces, can be found in more than 40 countries.

The company is awarded the Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000, an internationally accepted certification scheme. The company is also the first soya sauce manufacturer to receive the ISO22000 standards certification from SGS Singapore, demonstrating its commitment to quality. Furthermore, an A-grade rating from the Singapore Food Agency in its annual assessment exercise for 20 consecutive years reflects the credibility of Tai Hua’s products.

Despite its credentials, Tai Hua encountered various challenges when entering the Chinese market. Tai Hua, like many Singapore companies before it, had to compete with Chinese rivals who had access to cheaper raw materials, equipment, labour, and land.

Tai Hua also had to factor in the cost of transporting its premium ingredients, such as non-GMO (genetically modified organism) soya beans, sea salt and its final bottled products. Production costs matter too, as Tai Hua uses whole soya beans in its traditional manufacturing method to create a better product that appeals more to consumers.

Despite these challenges, Tai Hua believes in the quality of its products, particularly in terms of taste. Its products are often considered more fragrant, something that could resonate with consumers in China.

A springboard for growth

Last November, Tai Hua participated in the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai to showcase its latest soya sauce products. Through this platform, Tai Hua hoped to pitch their products to consumers who are seeking high-quality and healthy offerings. It was the third consecutive year that the company had participated in CIIE as part of a business delegation led by SBF, with the trade fair providing access to new business prospects in the vast Chinese market.

According to Mr Pek Yipp Song, 67, Executive Director for Sales and Marketing at Tai Hua, the one-stop shop concept at CIIE drew many trade attendees and delegates. “Buyers and delegates from various regions in China can be reached via one single platform, which makes it much easier for Tai Hua to share our products,” he added.

To build a solid foundation and achieve success in China, the company recognised the importance of finding reliable partners with whom to collaborate. The CIIE helped the company by acting as an intermediary for it to meet local business partners, widen the reach of its products, secure commercial and distribution deals, and learn more about local consumption and taste patterns towards sauces.

With the benefits that CIIE brings, Mr Pek believes that it is important for the company to continue showcasing its products at future CIIE trade shows, including this year’s event, where Tai Hua is a returning exhibitor.
Mr Pek said, “Unlike other trade show organisers, SBF helps to keep costs stable for exhibitors and has been doing their best to support local brands in growing their businesses globally. SBF staff are helpful, knowledgeable and professional in assisting and supporting exhibitors, which gives participating exhibitors like us a lot of confidence.”